VIRAT KOHLI continued his domination of the Standard Bank Proteas bowling attack while the Indian wrist spinners continued their mastery over the home batsmen to give India an inevitable 124-run victory in the third Momentum ODI at PPC Newlands on Wednesday.
The result gives India an invincible 3-0 lead in the six-match series, leaving the Proteas with the unenviable task of winning all three the remaining matches, starting with the PinkDrive ODI at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Saturday, to square the series.
Kohli made his second century of the series – an unbeaten 160 (159 balls, 12 fours and 2 sixes) – to set up the Indian total of 303/6 and now has an aggregate and average for the series of 318 and a strike rate in the high 90s. It is difficult to imagine what he can do to improve on those statistics!
A share of the praise must, however, go to opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan, who also hit 12 fours on his way to 76 off 63 balls to be slightly the more dominant partner in a second wicket stand of 140.
Thereafter, however, it was entirely the Kohli show as he scored 101 out of the 162 runs that India scored following Dhawan’s departure. In a remarkable statistic Dhawan and Kohli hit 24 fours and 2 sixes between them while the entire Indian innings consisted of 25 fours and 3 sixes.
The Proteas briefly got into the match on two occasions, the first when Kagiso Rabada dismissed Rohit Sharma with the final ball of his first over, giving new cap Heinrich Klaasen his first catch dismissal off his sixth ball behind the stumps.
Rabada, who had an excellent new ball spell, really raised the mood of the Proteas when he had a successful leg before wicket appeal against Kohli in his second over. The Indian captain, who had yet to score with only 4 runs on the board, then had a reprieve when the decision was reversed on review.
The Proteas second good period following the early loss of Hashim Amla at the start of their innings came when Aiden Markram and JP Duminy added 78 for the second wicket to put the two teams virtually level on comparative run rate after 15 overs.
But everything changed with the second ball of the 16th over when Kuldeep Yadav entered the attack and had Markram stumped when he deceived him in flight.
Although Duminy went on to reach a half-century (51 off 67 balls, 4 fours), Yadav and his spinning partner, Yuzvendra Chahal, entangled the Proteas batsmen, almost without exception in their web, and finished with four wickets each.
Yadav was particularly outstanding with his superb control of both length and flight regardless of which variation he was sending down.
The plain fact of the matter is that the pair have taken 21 wickets between them in just 52.2 overs in the series to date and for the second match in a row the Proteas were bowled out well inside their 50 overs with the final power play not taking place and the first thing the Proteas will have to work out is how to bat out their full complement of overs.
On the bowling front Rabada and Chris Morris were the pick of the attack with Duminy completing a good all-round performance by taking 2 wickets and bowling his full 10 overs.