It was a brilliant effort by Team India as they defeated South Africa in the first ODI at Kingsmead, Durban by six wickets to go 1-0 up in the series. Skipper Virat Kohli (112), as usual was the main man in the 270-run chase as he brought up his 33rd ODI century in the match. Along with Kohli, it was Ajinkya Rahane (79) who batted beautifully and strung a partnership of 189 runs for the third wicket. India achieved the target with 27 balls to spare.
The duo did not put a step wrong during the chase, and bailed the Indian team out of trouble when Shikhar Dhawan departed after a tragic run-out for 35 runs. The score read 67/2 at that time, and had more wickets fallen at that stage, the match could have gone either way.
But the duo dealt with the South African pacers really well, and did not allow them to settle. The highlight of Kohli-Rahane partnership was that they scored on all the loose deliveries that came their way. To go with that, they ran well between the wickets, to push South Africa on the backfoot.
The chase did not start on a very bright note for the Indian team, as they lost opener Rohit Sharma (20) with just 33 runs on the board. The Durban pitch, though good for batting, was a tricky one for the new batsmen. But Kohli and Rahane applied themselves well and helped India chase the target with ease.
The chase was not devoid of minor hiccups though. There was a time when Dhawan and Kohli were cruising at a brisk pace, but a wrong call for a run by Kohli, saw Dhawan make his way back to the pavilion. The dismissal left Dhawan fuming, as he was looking good for a big score.
But coming very close to the target, both Kohli and Rahane got out playing ordinary shots, and could not finish the match for India. It was MS Dhoni who took the Indian team to the victory, through a powerful pull towards mid-wicket.
As far as South African bowling is concerned, they'll be guilty of giving too many boundary balls to the Indians. Morne Morkel was good in the first spell, and got the ball to bounce as well. That did create some trouble for the batsmen initially. He gave away 35 runs, and got a wicket in his seven overs. Other bowlers were expensive, and the Indian batsmen dealt with them easily.
Earlier, skipper Faf Du Plessis (120) led from the front and slammed a majestic ton to help the Proteas post a competitive total after Indian spinners Kuldeep Yadav (3/34) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/45) wrecked the hosts' top-order with some fine spin bowling.
Openers Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla gave South Africa an ideal start and hit few boundaries early on to put the pressure on the Indian pacers. However, the 30-run stand was finally broken when Jasprit Bumrah trapped Amla plumb in front of the wicket for 16.
Skipper Faf Du Plessis then joined forces with de Kock and the duo started to take the attack to the visitors. The duo were looking dangerous and that is when Indian skipper Virat Kohli introduced the spinners into the attack.
The move turned out to be masterstroke as Chahal trapped de Kock LBW for 34. Replays showed that the ball was missing the stumps and had the batsman opted to review it, the southpaw would have survived.
JP Duminy was the next to depart as he was fooled by a Kuldeep Yadav googly and the ball crashed into middle and leg and the southpaw had to head back into the hut for 12. But Du Plessis kept going and he notched up his fifty off just 54 deliveries and held the innings from one end.
David Miller didn't last long either as he became Kuldeep's second scalp of the day after he hit the ball straight into the hands of Kohli at mid-on. Chris Morris then joined Du Plessis at the crease and they started the rebuilding job for the hosts when they were reeling at 134/5.
The duo batted cautiously and took South Africa's score past the 150-run mark with ease. But then after a short drinks break, the duo began to cut loose and started to deal in boundaries as they took the hosts' score past 200 in no time.
But Morris finally lost his concentration and he was clean bowled by Kuldeep, who scalped his third wicket of the day. The Chinaman finished with figures of 3/34 in 10 overs, which was also his best in the 50-over format of the game.
But Du Plessis kept going and he notched up his 9th ODI ton off just 101 deliveries and this was his second as the South Africa skipper. This was also Du Plessis' second ton against India in the 50-over format of the game.
A fine partnership of 56 runs between Du Plessis and Andille Phehlukwayo ensured the hosts crossed the 250-run mark, which at one point looked very unlikely. Du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada were dismissed in the last over of the innings, but 51 runs in the final five overs ensured that South Africa managed to post a fighting total of 269/8 in 50 overs.