Virat Kohli, spinners help India thrash South Africa, take 3-0 unassailable lead

Cape Town: On a scorching day, when the crowd waited till the second session to flock to the stadium, Virat Kohli proved his high levels of fitness as he single-handedly took India to a match-winning 303/6 in the third ODI here at Newlands on February 7. The total proved too much for the hosts as wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav (4/23) and Yuzvendra Chahal (4/46) got into the act again, skittling them out for 179 to help India to a 124-run win and a 3-0 unassailable lead in the six-match series. The India No.3 scored his 34th ODI century, the second of this series and 12th as captain, the most for India.
It wasn’t just his physical fitness on display but the strength of mind too as he hung on despite India suffering a meltdown in the latter overs when the middle order caved in.
While South Africa batsmen struggling against India spinners has become the norm in this series, it was Kohli’s resilience in extreme heat that caught everyone’s fancy.
The skipper, who remained unbeaten on 160 (12 fours and two sixes) got a stroke of luck early on after Kagiso Rabada got him out leg before. The decision was overturned on review with the snickometer showing a spike when the ball went past his bat — unusual as the bat seemed some distance away from the ball.
He cashed in on it and together with opener Shikhar Dhawan (76) set about punishing the Proteas bowlers on a perfect batting strip.
India had looked like getting to 350 when both the skipper and Dhawan were at the crease.
The two added 140 for the second wicket at over six an over.
Kohli and Dhawan were particularly severe on South Africa’s latest pace find Lungi Ngidi. His first four overs cost 29 runs and when he returned for another two overs, gave away 18 runs. Ngidi had replaced experienced paceman Morne Morkel for this game.
Ngidi began poorly, giving width to the batsmen. However, when he did bowl better, trying to keep deliveries back of the length and outside off, Dhawan was quick to improvise as he guided one past slips and to the boundary.
Confused, the ODI debutant Ngidi struggled for consistency as the Indians got into the groove. Though fellow paceman Kagiso Rabada looked good at the other end, the two Indian batsmen saw him off and milked the others.
However, just as Dhawan looked set for a century, part-time off-spinner Jean-Paul Duminy threw spanner in the works as he picked two wickets — Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane. Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav didn’t last long and it looked as India would struggle to get to 300 but Bhuvneshwar Kumar dug his heels in to give his skipper company. The two added 67 as India got 78 in the last 10 overs.
For South Africa, only seasoned batsman JP Duminy looked somewhat comfortable against the spin duo after he came in to bat at No.3 but he too fell to Yuzvendra Chahal to leave South Africa tottering at 95/4. Duminy had that lapse in Chahal’s fifth over as he tried to work one to the leg side but missed the line to be out leg before.
David Miller and Chris Morris did try but with the run rate climbing, attacking the spinners became the only option and while doing that they fell. With them South Africa’s hopes.

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