One no ball and a drop catch changed everything couple of nights ago for India, keeping South Africa well and truly alive in the series and on Tuesday, one run out did the exact opposite as India clinched its first ever ODI series in South Africa by comprehensively beating them with a margin of 73 runs to make it 4-1 with one match to go at Port Elizabeth.
Hardik Pandya’s bullet throw found Hashim Amla millimeters off his ground when he was threatening to take the match away from India batting on 71.
South Africa were well on course of the 275-run target with Amla and Klaasen going strong. They were 166 for 4, needing 108 runs at just over a run a ball when Pandya’s brilliance sucked the wind of the South Africa middle order.
The lower order of the hosts was again unable to cope with the might of the Indian spinners, losing their last 5 wickets for 35 runs. Three of those fell in one Kuldeep Yadav over – the last one of his spell. The left-arm chinaman returned with match-winning figures of 4 for 51.
The Indian fielding though was far from being complete. They dropped two relatively easy chances – one off Markram and one off the dangerous Amla but Pandya made it up with his brilliance in the field. The sassy all-rounder, who got out for a duck, made amends with the ball in his hand, picking up the all important wicket of AB de Villiers (6) before he had already foxed JP Duminy for 1 after South Africa
Earlier, opener Rohit Sharma scored his maiden century on South African soil as India posted 274/.Rohit (115) who notched up his 17th ODI century hit 11 boundaries and four sixes in his 126-ball innings. It was also his second ton against South Africa, the first one came in 2015 at Kanpur when he scored 150. The century also helped Rohit become the fourth highest century scorer in ODIs for India, following Sachin Tendulkar (49), Virat Kohli (34) and Sourav Ganguly (22).
For South Africa, Lungisani Ngidi was the pick of the bowlers returning figures of 4/51 while Kagiso Rabada picked up a wicket. Asked to bat, openers Shikhar Dhawan (34) and Rohit got India off to a decent start before the former was removed by South African pacer Kagiso Rabada while trying to pull a good bouncer which ended straight into the arms of Andile Phehlukwayo at deep square leg.
Rohit, who struggled to score in the previous ODIs started his innings in similar fashion. However, a boundary and a hit over the fence in back-to-back overs set the momentum for the Mumbai batsman, who kept going from there. Later, Virat Kohli (36) played a slow 54-ball innings. He was involved in a 105-run second wicket stand with Rohit before he was ran out by Jean-Paul Duminy. Following the dismissal, Ajinkya Rahane (8) again fell victim to Rohit's mis-timed call and was ran out by Morne Morkel.
However, Rohit continued his flow of runs and brought up his century in the 36th over after he got a lucky escape batting on 96 being dropped by Tabraiz Shamsi. Incoming batsman Shreyas Iyer (30) played a steady innings to keep the flow of runs going. He hit two boundaries in his 37-ball innings and was involved in a 60-run fourth wicket partnership with Rohit.
Rohit, who ended his drought of runs was cleaned up pacer Ngidi while trying to play a late cut which was easily taken by the keeper. Incoming batsman, Hardik Pandya (0) was sent back by Ngidi in the very next delivery for a duck, which brought former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on crease.
Later, Iyer, who kept the momentum of runs for India also fell prey to Ngidi in similar fashion. Post the dismissal, Dhoni scored 13 runs while before becoming the fourth scalp to Ngidi while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (19 not out) contributed important runs in the lower order.