Port Elizabeth: India on Tuesday scripted history by winning their first ever away series against South Africa across any formats winning the fifth ODI by 73 runs taking an unassailable lead of 4-1 in the six-match series.
Opener Rohit Sharma (115 off 126 balls, 11×4, 4×6) finally came good in this series as he scored his 17th century, his first in South Africa, to help India get to 274 in their 50 overs.
Although the middle order faltered a bit for India, Rohit’s effort, together with his partnerships with both Rohit and Virat were enough to give the visitors a score that proved too much for the Proteas.
South Africa tried hard and despite losing early wickets, including that of AB de Villiers, tried to make a match of it. However, once Hashim Amla was run out by Hardik Pandya, it was left for Heinrich Klaasen to shoulder the responsibility and in the end it proved too much.
Amla top-scored with 71 while Klaasen made 39 off 42 balls. Spinners Kuldeep Yadav (4/57) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/43) were again among the wickets. Hardik Pandya with two wickets, including that of De Villiers, and a run out of Amla and a catch towards the end was the main star for India in the second half.
Earlier, Rohit’s century carried India beyond the 200-run mark. It was the first time India crossed the landmark at this venue where they had lost all the previous five encounters.
The opener was lucky to get to his century as he was dropped three short of the milestone. Apart from that though, his knock was flawless.
Rohit had been troubled by the pace and the bounce on these wickets in the earlier games, not just in this series but on the previous tour, back in 2013. This time he buckled down, first letting Dhawan play the aggressive role and then getting himself into that mould.
The first boundary of his, off Morne Morkel, was a bit edgy as it went in the air, past the diving JP Duminy at point. He then came down the track and hit Kagiso Rabada for a six over long on to slay the nerves.
That set him going and from there, in the company of Virat Kohli, he never looked back.
Although the pitch supported movement early on, Rohit and Virat were never really bothered as the Proteas bowling struggled to make use of it before resorting to the scrambled seam to confuse the latter-order India batsmen.
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