Opener Shikhar Dhawan said he was elated after scoring a century in the fourth ODI of the ongoing six-match series against South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday (February 10), which was also his 100th global outing for India in the 50-over format.
However, for South Africa wicket-keeper batsman Heinrich Klaasen, who played his first match of the series and assured them a comprehensive victory in the Johannesburg encounter, had looked to tackle the Indian wrist spinners well.
Over to Port Elizabeth and India's search for a maiden ODI series win in the Rainbow Nation continues.
What are the squads for India vs South Africa 5th ODI match?
India must brush the loss aside and look to wrap the series up. Having said that, South Africa did have a lot going for them - rain reduced their target to 202 from 28 overs, and it also meant that the Indian spinners weren't able to grip the ball as well as they would have liked. "I was very surprised", Klaasen said about Kohli's strategic call to keep Kumar and Bumrah away from the action at the death after South Africa's target was revised. "Otherwise we were in very good position", Dhawan said at the post match press conference late Saturday night. There were plenty of positives they can take heart from, like the fact that despite Shikhar Dhawan (109) and Kohli (75) getting among the runs, they restricted India to 289/7.
South Africa: Aiden Markram (captain), Jean-Paul Duminy, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel, David Miller, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lungisani Ngidi, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Imran Tahir, Farhaan Behardien, Khaya Zondo, Tabraiz Shamsi.
The two teams now travel to Port Elizabeth for the penultimate match on the eve of Valentines day. Together they attacked the South African attack, finding the pitch much to their liking.
South Africa had a full-fledged training session on match eve, with nearly all players present, while India had an optional session that only Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni, Shardul Thakur, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav attended. Repetitive interruptions in play due to rain and lightning didn't let the Indian batsmen get into a proper rhythm and despite a spirited start by Dhawan and Kohli, they didn't manage to cross the 300-mark. To put things into perspective, that is 61.61 percent of all runs India have made in one-day internationals since the showpiece event in 2015.
He looked good for many more, but shockingly holed out out at fine leg off Hardik Pandya (1-37) in the 17th over as the game turned on its head. Is that fair? The last 13 first-innings scores (most recent first with 1/2 denoting game won by side batting first or second) would suggest yes. And the belief in the change room. Like they say, one swallow doesn't make a summer. These two spinners won three games for us. And given how the series has gone overall so far, they will still back themselves to pull it off.