A superb innings of 115 from Rohit Sharma and four wickets for Kuldeep Yadav steered India to a 73-run win in the fifth ODI at St George's Park, giving the visitors an unassailable 4-1 lead in the series with one match still to play.
The Proteas have a formidable recent record on home soil, having won their last eight series prior to this match-up, but Virat Kohli's India have demonstrated what an impressive all-round outfit they have become, whatever the conditions. It is India's first-ever ODI series victory in South Africa.
India seal the series win! Kuldeep Yadav cleans up South Africa's lower to secure a 73 run victory in Port Elizabeth and take a 4-1 lead with one match to play! It's India's first ODI series win in South Africa!#SAvIND scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/BYzPafrycQ pic.twitter.com/FyV0tjHHPE— ICC (@ICC) February 13, 2018
South Africa had their chances in this match to keep the series alive, fighting back impressively after India's top three had given them a flying start. Stand-in skipper Aiden Markram may have been regretting his decision to insert India after winning the toss, as Shikhar Dhawan, buoyed by his century in the previous match, raced to 34 in 23 balls, finding the boundary eight times.
His dismissal, caught by Andile Phehlukwayo at deep square leg off the bowling of Kagiso Rabada, brought Kohli to the crease and the Indian captain looked set for another big score until a mix-up with Sharma saw him run out by JP Duminy for 36.
Nonetheless, at 153/2 India were on course for a total well in excess of 300 but with the notable exception of Sharma, who struck 11 fours and four sixes on his way to a 17th ODI hundred, they struggled to kick on. Shreyas Iyer (30 off 37) offered useful support before he became the second of Lungi Ngidi's four wickets and the tourists eventually had to settle for a total of 274/7 – a target the hosts would have felt was within their reach.
Markram and Hashim Amla made an assured start, the former receiving a life on 9 when Iyer spilled a simple chance at extra cover. Markram moved on to a run-a-ball 32 before getting a leading edge off Jasprit Bumrah which looped into the hands of Kohli at mid-off.
Duminy and AB de Villiers then fell in successive overs from Hardik Pandya, both playing at deliveries they could have left alone and leaving South Africa in trouble at 65/3, before David Miller and Amla set about rescuing the innings, sharing a fourth-wicket stand of 62.
It took a lovely piece of bowling from Yuzvendra Chahal to dismiss Miller, the leg-spinner giving the ball some air, taking the pace off and tempting him down the track. It proved to be Miller's undoing as he went through with the shot too early and still had time to turn around to see his leg stump knocked back.
If the hosts were to chase down their target they would need Amla to score the lion's share of the runs, and the 34-year-old went through to a first ODI half-century against India since August 2013, off 72 balls. He appeared to be tipping the game in his side's favour before an error of judgement which proved to be the defining moment of the match. Facing Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amla punched the ball firmly to mid-off and set off for a quick single. Pandya swooped and threw down the stumps, with Amla fractionally short of his ground. It was a dismissal from which South Africa would not recover.
Kuldeep, the left-arm wrist-spinner, has tormented South Africa in this series and he did so again in Port Elizabeth, clean bowling Phehlukwayo with a classic googly before sweeping up the tail to finish with figures of 4/57. The wicket-keeper Heinrich Klaasen showed some fight, launching Kuldeep for 16 in an over, but by the time he fell for 39, the contest was effectively over.
Chahal – who has taken 14 wickets in this series, with Kuldeep claiming 16 – finished the job, trapping Morne Morkel lbw to seal a comprehensive win.