De Kock, du Plessis and de Villiers smash hundreds as India is humbled by 214 runs in decider
Much has been said of how difficult batting has become in One-Day Internationals after the new rules came into effect in July. There have been numerous instances even in this India-South Africa series of batsmen struggling to get going, particularly on the slow wickets.
On Sunday (October 25), though, a packed and noisy Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai witnessed a throwback to the not-so-distant past in ODI cricket, with batsmen demolishing bowlers with disdain.
Unfortunately for them, it was India which was at the receiving end with South Africa blasting its way to 438 for 4 in 50 overs, setting up a massive and historic 214-run victory in the final ODI. It helped AB de Villiers’s side hurtle to a 3-2 series victory, South Africa;s first bilateral ODI series triumph on Indian soil.
The downside of such a massive score is that the second innings, on most occasions, becomes merely a formality.
Ajinkya Rahane fought valiantly with a typically classy 58-ball 87 but India could manage only 224 as it was bowled out in the 36th over, succumbing to its heaviest loss in terms of runs at home, and its second heaviest overall.
At the forefront of South Africa’s batting-bash were centuries from the three in-form batsmen – Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and de Villiers. It was du Plessis’s first, de Kock’s second and de Villiers’s third century of the series.
De Kock set the platform with an 87-ball 109 – his fifth century against India — before passing on the baton to du Plessis (133 off 115) and de Villiers (119 off 61), as South Africa brought up the highest ever ODI score in India. A whopping 38 fours and 20 sixes – 11 of them from de Villiers – flew to every part of the stadium.
In all four previous games of the series, the team winning the toss opted to bat and went on to win. So when de Villiers called right on a flat pitch, it set things up perfectly for the batsmen to make merry.
And make merry they did. The tone was set in the first 10 overs, South Africa’s openers feasting on generous offerings from the Indian pacemen. India tried to exploit the bounce on the Wankhede pitch by bowling short, but at their gentle pace, it was way too easy.
Hashim Amla led the initial charge. He started with a flurry of boundaries and became the fastest batsman to 6000 ODI runs before perishing by the sword when he edged Mohit Sharma to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, looking to cut a short ball.
The wicket, though, did not affect de Kock. The pacers were either short or wide or both, and with the ball coming on nicely to the bat, he pulled, glanced, flicked and drove on the up, and South Africa scored as many as 14 fours in the first 10 overs.
Dhoni turned to spin but de Kock was already in the mood to have fun and continued to find the boundary with remarkable ease. The humidity was such that de Kock was already tiring by the 20th over but it turned out to be a blessing of sorts, allowing him the freedom to go for his shots even more. A disdainful whip over deep square-leg and a drive through covers, off Mohit, took him to 99 and the century was completed with a calm flick off his 78th ball.
It was just the 23rd over and de Kock had a real chance of making it huge, but a tired shot to the deep off Suresh Raina ended his stay. There was no respite though, as de Villiers walked out. It was the perfect platform and the South African captain had the license – if at all he needed one – to attack from the word go.
Sixes flew off de Villiers’s bat off every Indian bowler to perhaps every stand in the stadium, taking him past his half-century in 34 balls. Soon, it was near impossible to keep track of who was hit where.
Amid all the de Kock and de Villiers carnage, du Plessis silently strolled to his century without fuss. He was suffering from cramps and batting on one leg in the later half of his knock but still managed to slam sixes at will before retiring hurt to a standing ovation.
But there was no such trouble for de Villiers. The six-feast continued and even the usually partisan Wankhede crowd began chants of “AB, AB”. Why, even the Indian players wore wry smiles. De Villiers breezed his way to his 23rd ODI ton in just 57 balls and by the time he fell, South Africa was on the brink of 400 with more than three overs to spare. In times where the last 10 overs are supposed to be not too easy for batting, South Africa plundered 144 runs in the period.
That India had an off-day would be an understatement. No bowler conceded less than six runs an over and as many as four catches were put down. De Kock was dropped on 58 by Mohit, while du Plessis received reprieves from Rahane and Amit Mishra on 45 and 86 respectively. Late in the piece, Farhaan Behardien was put down by Raina, but that was almost inconsequential.
India lost Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli within the first eight overs of the chase but Rahane steadied the innings along with Shikhar Dhawan.
Both received reprieves early in their knocks and carried on to reach contrasting half-centuries. While Dhawan wasn’t at his fluent best, Rahane played some gorgeous shots. He came down the track to hit Imran Tahir for straight sixes and used the pace against the pacers, finding the boundary almost at will with some classy strokes.
The partnership reached 100 in 82 balls and the big screen displayed that both sides were on the same score in the 23rd over, but Kagiso Rabada ended any hope of a miracle with a double strike. Dhawan lofted the pacer to extra cover where Amla took a good catch diving to his left and Raina followed, bowled behind his pads by a yorker.
Rahane kept going with a few more attractive shots but once he mishit Dale Steyn to deep mid-wicket, it was just a matter of time. Steyn and Tahir ran through the lower order and bowled India out in just 36 overs. The ever so impressive Rabada ended with four wickets, while Steyn and Tahir took three and two respectively.
It was the first one-sided match of the series, and came at the perfect time for South Africa.
To see the full scorecard of this game, please click here.