In the fifth ODI of the ongoing six-match match ODI series between South Africa and India, the Indian team defeated the hosts by 73 runs in the fifth ODI of the six-match series and clinched the series by 4-1 with one match to go.
Indian opener Rohit Sharma was the chief architect of India’s victory as they managed to score 274 runs in the first innings then came the wrist spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, as they ran through the lower middle order to seal the win. This is India’s first bilateral series triumph in South Africa – across formats – and skipper Virat Kohli was more than pleased with the effort of the team.
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During the post-match presentation, talking to Shaun Pollock, Indian skipper Virat Kohli said, “Very pleased. Another convincing win for us and I thought the guys really got stuck in, with the bat, with the ball, and on the field as well. It was a complete performance from us which was important to put together after the last game. We knew that a few mistakes and we’d be right back in the game. Right from the third Test in Johannesburg, it has been a great time for us. We’ve been playing some really good cricket and it has been a collective effort from the team-mates, the support staff, and everybody; feels wonderful to be 4-1 up.”
Even as India scored 274, the middle order continued to stammer which remains a concern for the men in blue as the focus remains on the 2019 World Cup. For a second consecutive game, India didn’t get the desired finish with just 55 runs from the last 10 overs. Talking about the same, Virat said, “When three guys at the top are playing well and scoring consistently, every now and then you get an opportunity where you might not click, and when this series is wrapped up we’ll look to think about what we can do to improve and strengthen as we move forward.”
Asked if India would make any changes in the dead rubber at Centurion, Kohli remained dubious at the time. He said, “We want to win 5-1 for sure, that doesn’t change, but there’ll be a chance for others to step in as well. The first priority is to win and we’ll do anything to do that again.”
Also read: Review: SA vs Ind (5th ODI)
On the other hand, South Africa’s stand-in skipper Aiden Markram conceded India were superior to the hosts and deserved the win. He said, “Credit to the Indians, they played very well today. Still happy with what we had to chase out there today. Our batting wasn’t upto scratch, and it is hard to keep up the momentum when you lose wickets in clumps. These are some quality Indian players in good form so credit to them, they nailed the execution of their plans.”
He further added, “They’ve bowled well, they took wickets and the more we play them the better we’ll get. So all credit to them (the Indian spinners), and we’ll look to improve our skills against quality wrist spin.”
Despite losing the series, Markram feels that the Proteas need to save their pride in the final ODI, he said, “Lot of pride to play for in the dead-rubber and we will look to bounce back and end the ODI series on a positive note at Centurion. We’ll try to work on putting that perfect game together in the next one.”
Before Tuesday’s game, Rohit had only scored 126 runs in South Africa throughout his career. Talking about the same, he said, “It was a long time coming (smiles). I had a good time in the middle; as the game went on the wicket got slower and slower and it wasn’t easy. Had fun in the middle and it is always a good feeling when you score a hundred and your team wins the match. We stuck to our plans and am glad it came off.”
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He further added, “You’ve got to keep yourself mentally fit. South Africa is a good place to play cricket and I try to keep myself in the right frame of mind and it paid off. I knew I didn’t have to change a lot and the runs would come. I kept doing the same things off the field, I kept hitting the ball well and the confidence was there that I would score.”
Rohit’s celebrations of his 17th ODI century were softened and the deputy skipper stated that it was due to the fact that there was plenty to do for him. He described, “We were in a spot of bother when I got to my century and that’s why the celebrations were low key. What was important for me was to bat long and get the team to a good score and am glad we came out hard and defended it.”