PORT ELIZABETH: India created history, beating South Africa by 73 runs in the fifth One-day International here at the St George’s Park to win their first-ever series in the country. They lead 4-1 with one game to go at Centurion.
Opener Rohit Sharma (115 off 126 balls, 11×4, 4×6) finally came good in this series as he scored his 17th century, his first in South Africa, to help India get to 274 in their 50 overs. Although the middle order faltered a bit for India , Rohit’s effort, together with his partnerships with both Rohit and Virat were enough to give the visitors a score that proved too much for the Proteas.
South Africa tried hard and despite losing early wickets, including that of AB de Villiers, tried to make a match of it. However, once Hashim Amla was run out by Hardik Pandya, it was left for Heinrich Klaasen to shoulder the responsibility and in the end it proved too much. Amla top-scored with 71 while Klaasen made 39 off 42 balls. Spinners Kuldeep Yadav (4/57) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/43) were again among the wickets. Hardik Pandya with two wickets, including that of AB De Villiers, and a run out of Amla and a catch towards the end was the main star for India in the second half.
Earlier, Rohit’s century carried India beyond the 200-run mark. It was the first time India crossed the landmark at this venue where they had lost all the previous five encounters. The opener was lucky to get to his century as he was dropped three short of the milestone. Apart from that though, his knock was flawless.
Rohit had been troubled by the pace and the bounce on these wickets in the earlier games, not just in this series but on the previous tour, back in 2013. This time he buckled down, first letting Dhawan play the aggressive role and then getting himself into that mould.