CAPE TOWN, Feb. 8: A 10-hour drive from Cape Town lies the capital of South Africa's Northern Cape Province - Kimberley. For a country seeking collective reprieve right now from India's One-day cricket dominance, even Kimberley failed to provide any respite as the South African women lost to a very impressive Indian performance - Smriti Mandhana's 135 off 129 balls and leg-spinner Poonam Yadav's 4-24 - and went down by a massive 178 runs.
Here in Newlands too, it was the same story. Riding on Virat Kohli's masterly 160 off 159 balls and wrist spinners Yazuvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav's four-wicket hauls, India rode to yet another massive win over South Africa on Wednesday. Batting first and setting the hosts 304 to win, the home team ended up winning the third of the six-match series by a huge margin of 124 runs.
It wasn't just South Africa's third defeat in the series but for the third straight time, their batting showed no resilience against India's dominating wrist spin. Left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan's 63-ball 76, chinaman Kuldeep Yadav's 4-23 and legspinner Yazuvendra Chahal's 4-46 dominated proceedings apart from Kohli's magnificent ton.
Kohli's brilliance, in fact, made up for Rohit Sharma's very poor form with the bat and MS Dhoni's failing touch.
Ironically, South Africa fought well in the first half of the game, having learnt some lessons from the defeats in the first two ODIs. A little extra bounce, some better fielding and the spinners using more flight than they did in the first two matches allowed the hosts to make a match of it for most part of the first innings. In doing so, South Africa restricted a surging India to 303-6 in 50 overs given the latter were 140-2 around the 24th over.
But Kohli's masterclass, the dominance of Chahal-Kuldeep duo and the absence of three of their leading batsmen -- Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock -- made it a lost cause for them.
Aiden Markram and JP Duminy put together a 78-run stand for the second wicket and showed some resilience. On the bowling front too, South Africa looked an improved unit. Chris Morris's line, Kagiso Rabada's pace, Andile Phehlukway's comeback towards the end of India's innings and better lengths from the spin duo of JP Duminy and Imran Tahir kept a check on the free flow of runs. There was poor bowling in phases but not clueless spells and it accounted for cheap dismissals of Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya in the middle of India's innings.
Things, nevertheless, went back to square one when India introduced their wrist spinners. Markram got stumped, Duminy allowed an incoming one on to the pads, debutant Heinrich Klaasen missed a flick and South Africa got reduced from 79-2 to 95-4, needing another 209 runs for victory and 28 overs left. Chahal and Kuldeep continued to cause mayhem in South African ranks as India won with embarrassing ease, having made sure they can't lose the series now.
India: R Sharma c Klaasen b Rabada 0, S Dhawan c Markram b Duminy 76, V Kohli not out 160, A Rahane c Phehlukwayo b Duminy 11, H Pandya c Klaasen b Morris 14, MS Dhoni c Ngidi b Tahir 10, K Jadhav c Klaasen b Phehlukwayo 1, B Kumar not out 16; Extras: 15 (lb 3, w 12); TOTAL: 303/6; FoW: 1-0, 2-140, 3-160, 4-188, 5-228, 6-236; Bowling: K Rabada 10-1-54-1, L Ngidi 6-0-47-0, C Morris 9-0-45-1, A Phehlukwayo 6-0-42-1, I Tahir 9-0-52-1, JP Duminy 10-0-60-2
South Africa: H Amla lbw b Bumrah 1, A Markram st Dhoni b Kuldeep 32, JP Duminy lbw b Chahal 51, H Klaasen lbw b Chahal 6, D Miller c Dhoni b Bumrah 23, K Zondo c sub (Pandey) b Chahal 17, C Morris lbw Kuldeep 14, A Phehlukwayo c Kohli b Kuldeep 3, K Rabada not out 12, I Tahir c Kohli b Chahal 8, L Ngidi lbw Kuldeep 6; Extras: 2 (lb 1, w 1); TOTAL: 171 (39 overs); FoW: 1-1, 2-79, 3-88, 4-95, 5-129, 6-150, 7-150, 8-158, 9-167; Bowling: B Kumar 7-0-41-0, J Bumrah 7-0-32-2, H Pandya 8-0-35-0, Y Chahal 9-0-46-4, Kuldeep 9-1-23-4. TOI
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