In Stats: Rohit’s Ton, Spin Magic Takes India to Historic SA Win
Team India created history on Tuesday night when they defeated South Africa in the 5th ODI at the St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth. The 73-run win – India’s first-ever win in an ODI at the venue – also resulted in India winning a bilateral ODI series in South Africa for the first time. This win would be India’s 9th consecutive win in a bilateral series – a feat bettered only once before in the history of ODIs; the West Indies won 14 consecutive series between 1980 and 1988.
The win also had an effect on the ICC ODI rankings; Tuesday’s win also confirmed that Team India would occupy the number one spot in the 12-team rankings for the foreseeable future. It should be noted that India also occupy the top spot in the ICC Test rankings.
Having been asked to bat, India rode on Rohit Sharma’s century and useful contributions from several others to post 274-7 – a below-par total considering a total in excess of 300 was on the horizon at one stage in the innings. Early on, the conditions favoured the bowlers, yet India were quick off the blocks with Shikhar Dhawan punishing the home team’s bowlers when they gave him room to free his arms or erred in length.
Rohit was expectedly cautious early on, given the drought of runs in the series. But once he had seen off the early overs, one knew a three-figure score was coming. The ‘start slow and make it big’ formula has worked well for Rohit in the past – and hence was advocated in the preview before the match – was put to use yet again; he had scored just one run from the first 15 balls he faced, but once he had seen off the early burst from South Africa’s pacers, there would be no stopping him. He switched gears quite brilliantly; from hardly getting the ball off the square in the early overs, Rohit suddenly switched to overdrive mode and scored at the strike-rate of 148.39 in the next few overs. And once he had caught up with the run-a-ball scoring rate, he settled down to play the long innings.
Rohit – dropped on the boundary when on 99 – made 115 before he was dismissed in the 43rd over; it wasn’t his most-fluent innings, but it was an important knock in the circumstances:
- to prove to himself that he can score runs in South Africa,
- because had been involved in the run-outs of two top-order batsmen,
- for the team’s cause. The lower order had barely had a hit in the series, and the team needed one set batsman to convert a start to a three-figure score.
Rohit struggled against Rabada – who has been his nemesis on this tour having dismissed him 6 times in 9 innings – but survived on the day; he would have even derived satisfaction from depositing him into the stands at long-on on one occasion. Against the rest, he was pretty much in control of proceedings.
Despite restricting India to 274, it was not going to be easy for South Africa to chase it down – given the slow nature of the surface and the fact that spinners were getting purchase off the pitch even in the first half of the match.
South Africa got off to a solid start with the openers Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram looking quite comfortable early on; they added 52 runs in the first powerplay when the latter miscued a hit and holed out to mid-off. Hardik Pandya struck two big blows in quick succession immediately after when he had JP Duminy caught at slip and AB de Villiers caught behind. South Africa slipped to 65-3 in 12.5 overs.
The rebuilding for the hosts happened through a partnership between Amla and David Miller; the fourth wicket pair were quite comfortable in the middle – against pace and spin alike – and added 62 runs. That threatening stand was broken when Chahal castled Miller with a tossed up delivery.
And then the tables turned. From 127-4 when Miller was dismissed, South Africa would collapse to fold for 201 – dismissed in 42.2 overs.
If Jasprit Bumrah and Pandya accounted for 3 of the top 4 batsmen (Amla was run out), the spin duo of Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav ran through the rest of the batting line-up. So far in the 5 ODIs in this series, the two wrist spinners have collected a total of 30 wickets – a tally unmatched in India’s ODI history. The previous record for the most wickets taken by India’s spinners in a bilateral ODI series is 27 wickets; on that occasion – against England in India in 2006 – Harbhajan Singh’s tally of 12 wickets was supplemented by Ramesh Power (7 wkts), Yuvraj Singh (6 wkts) and Virender Sehwag (2 wkts).