Proteas Clinch India Series In Style

South Africa scored unquestionably its most memorable ODI victory ever over India when it triumphed by 214 runs at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Sunday to clinch the five-match ODI Freedom Series in champion style.  Having won this series 3-2 the Proteas have now completed the limited overs double on their maiden Mahatma Ghandi-Nelson Mandela Tour, having previously won the T20 Freedom Series 2-0 with one match washed out.  Sunday’s victory produced any number of records.

Quinton De Kock, Faf Du Plessis and AB De Villiers all scored centuries which made it only the second time in ODI history that one side had provided three centurions – the previous occasion was also by the South Africans against the West Indies earlier this year when De Villiers, Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw all passed the three-figure mark.  The SA total of 438/4 was the highest ever on the sub-continent.

Remarkably no ODI at Wankhede between two full member countries had produced a total of even 300 previously.  Amla became the quickest player to score 6 000 ODI runs, 13 innings quicker than India’s Virat Kohli.  De Villiers scored an SA record 23rd ODI century

De Kock became the quickest player to score eight ODI centuries, beating an Amla record.  SA’s margin of victory was their biggest ever over India.  SA’s second and third wicket partnerships of 154 and 211 were both ground records and the latter was also an SA record against India.

Enough of the records.  As on all occasions when De Villiers makes a century (119 off 61 balls, three fours and 11 sixes), everything that has preceded it tends to be forgotten but he would be the first one to salute the foundation laid by De Kock (109 off 87 balls, 17 fours and a six) and Du Plessis (133 retired hurt with cramp, 115 balls, nine fours and six sixes) who had been largely responsible for the total of 187/2 by the 27th over when the captain took over.

The Proteas went on to make 229 runs in the last 20 overs and 134 in the last 10.  The significance of the Proteas batting effort was, however, the fact that none of the three Indian specialist spinners was able to take a wicket until the final over of the innings.  This was a huge step forward as India rely on their spinners for wickets in the middle overs and will be a big boost going into the Test series.  As tough as the task was, India stayed level with the South African run rate for the first half of their chase as Shikhar Dhawan (60 off 59 balls, eight fours) and Ajinkya Rahane (87 off 58 balls, nine fours and three sixes) put on 112 for the third wicket in 15 overs.

But the challenge was snuffed out when Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn came back to bowl their second and third spells respectively.  Rabada, having got rid of Virat Kohli in his new ball spell, dismissed both Dhawan and Suresh Raina in a burst of nine balls while Steyn had a spell of 3/7 in three overs that included Rahane.  That was basically game set and match.

De Villiers, who was named Man of the Series, De Kock, who was named Man of the Match, and Du Plessis all had aggregates in excess of 300 for the series while Steyn and Rabada were the joint leading wicket-takers with 10 each.  They had almost identical strike rates of 28.1 and 28.2.  It was a great day for South African cricket and it is worth reflecting that they had to do without two senior players, JP Duminy and Morne Morkel for the last two matches, and Rilee Rossouw for the entire series.

For this match the Proteas brought in Dean Elgar to give an extra batting option and Kyle Abbott for Chris Morris and Aaron Phangiso.  In the end Elgar only got to face two balls and was not needed to bowl as Farhaan Behardien bowled eight overs and the Indian innings only lasted 36 overs.