India have won their maiden bilateral ODI series on South African soil. 

5 Reasons Why Kohli’s Men Managed to Win an ODI Series in SA

Going into the six-match ODI series against South Africa in South Africa, the odds were stacked against India. Prior to the start of India’s 2018 tour, the hosts had a 45-29 win-loss record in all ODIs against the visitors. In addition, the Proteas had lost just six of the last 42 bilateral ODI series at home.

Halfway through the series, and India were clearly in the driver’s seat with three back-to-back wins. But despite South Africa’s inability to decipher India’s spinners and a few star cricketers missing, the hosts managed to pulled one back and stay alive in the series by winning the fourth one-dayer at Johannesburg.

Virat and company, however, knew that the series was all but theirs. The men in blue’s next win on 13 February not only marked their first at St George's Park but also resulted in India clinching their first bilateral ODI series on South African soil.

With just one inconsequential game remaining in the series, we look at the reasons behind India’s historic win.

1. Spinning Magic

Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have been the talk of the series – the South African batsmen can’t seem to decipher them, while the Indian pacers have had nothing on them.

The spin duo has picked up a record-breaking 30 wickets in the five ODIs so far– a total unmatched in India’s ODI history.

Kuldeep – with 16 wickets so far – now holds the record for most scalps by an overseas in an ODI series in Proteas land.

In the second match, Chahal picked up his maiden five-wicket haul while Kuldeep returned with figures of 3/20 in 6 overs. The two combined to pick up a total of eight wickets for 42 runs, and set the record for the best collective ODI haul in South Africa.

Also Read: In Stats: Chahal, Kuldeep Run Riot as South Africa Hit Record Low

2. Virat Leads From the Front

Virat’s Scores in India’s ODI Series vs South Africa

1st ODI: 112
2nd ODI: 46*
3rd ODI: 160*
4th ODI: 75
5th ODI: 36

Skipper Kohli has not just successfully led his side to a historic series win, the batsman has done so while leading by example. The captain has once again been the backbone of the Indian batting line-up, scoring 429 runs in five ODIs, including two tons and one half-century.

Starting with the first ODI at Durban, Virat Kohli’s 112 along with Ajinkya Rahane’s 79 helped India successfully chase South Africa’s first innings total of 279, with six wickets at hand. In the second match, he comfortably helped the team cross the line with an unbeaten 46. And in the Cape Town ODI, Kohli’s 160 not-out accounted for more than half of India’s innings total of 303/6.

The Indian captain supported Dhawan with a 75-run knock in the fourth ODI, but got out for 36 after a run-out mix-up with Rohit Sharma.

Also Read: Virat Kohli – Team India’s Most Courageous Captain Ever

3. South Africa’s Injury Woes

South Africa suffered their first big blow when AB de Villiers was ruled out due to injury, even before the series began. Next up was captain Faf du Plessis, who after smashing a century at Durban, was forced to sit out of the remainder of the rubber due to a fractured finger. Opening batsman Aiden Markram – just two ODIs old – was then handed the captain’s hat.

The host team’s injury woes continued as wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock was ruled out for up to four weeks with a wrist injury, after the second ODI. Heinrich Klaasen replaced him behind the stumps, en route earning his maiden South Africa call-up.

The hosts had some relief however as ABD returned to the squad for the fourth ODI, that South Africa eventually won.

Also Read: Wicket-Keeper Quinton de Kock Adds to South Africa’s Injury Woes

4. Indian Pacers’ Start

Even though the Indian spinners have been the highlight of the series, the pacers too have made some crucial contribution. While it was Kuldeep and Chahal who would finish games for India, it was fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar who got the early scalps.

The Indian pacers have dismissed a South African batsman in the first 10 overs of all five ODIs, so far. 

In fact, in four of those games, Bumrah has been the one to pick up the first scalp.

Though niggardly, but the pacers have contributed to India’s success. In the series so far, Bumrah has picked a total of six wickets in five games while Kumar has picked up two. All-rounder Hardik Pandya returned with figures of 2/30 in the fifth ODI at Port Elizabeth, and took one wicket in the game before that.

Also Read: In Stats: Rohit’s Ton, Spin Magic Takes India to Historic SA Win

5. India’s Top Order

While Virat Kohli has been the chief scorer in the series so far, the Indian top order has not been far behind. In fact, the visitors have not been all out in even one of the games so far. And in the three ODIs that India batted first, a batsman in the top three has smashed a century.

In the series opener, Ajinkya Rahane (79) teamed up with Kohli (112) to successfully chase their 279-run target after Rohit and Shikhar were dismissed for scores of 20 and 35. In the second game, Virat and opener Shikhar Dhawan’s unbeaten 93-run partnership, helped India achieve their easy 119-run target.

In Cape Town too, it was Virat (160) and Dhawan (76) who helped India post a 303-run total, and in the 4th ODI, the two batsman scored the bulk of the runs – Virat posting 75 and Dhawan 109. After poor performances in the first four games, Rohit Sharma had no option but to fire with the bat at Port Elizabeth. While he got Kohli and Rahane run-out, the opener scored 115 runs, helped India post 274/7 in their 50 overs.

Also Read: In Stats: How Dhawan Continues to Have Virat’s Back in ODIs

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