'Chase master' Virat Kohli puts India in pole position

Virat Kohli has set the tone for himself and India in 2018 by scoring a hundred in the team’s first one-dayer of the year.

Virat Kohli after scoring his 33rd hundred in ODIs.   -  AFP

South Africa posted a challenging total on the board and in the past only twice a 270-plus has been chased down in Durban (by Australia and South Africa). It is well known, Virat Kohli thrives in a chase and this was an ideal challenge for him to go out an express himself, he exactly did that and led India to a comfortable six-wicket win.

For Kohli, 2017 was a spectacular season where he smashed 1460 runs from 26 ODI innings and topped the one-day batting charts. With a hundred at Durban, the Indian captain has given an indication that this year won't be different either.

He has set the tone for himself and India in 2018 by scoring a hundred in the team’s first one-dayer of the year. For the first time in a bilateral ODI series against South Africa in its backyard, India has a series lead and got the advantage to secure a first series win.

Read: Kohli, Rahane star in India's win at Durban

Eoin Morgan’s England was the team on the receiving end of Kohli’s chasing expertise on January 15, 2017, when even a total as high as 350 proved insufficient. Chasing 351, India had plummeted to 60-odd for four and staring at a big defeat. Kedar Jadhav was Kohli’s ally on that January night and the duo stitched a valuable 200-run partnership for the fifth wicket to put the pressure back on England, which the visitor had never thought of. The chase was sealed with 11 balls to spare, with Kohli scoring 122 (his 27th ODI hundred), and Jadhav (120 runs off 75 balls).

In Durban on Thursday night, circumstances were similar and the Indian batsmen were up against a bowling attack featuring Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan got the tourist off to a steady start, but the fall of wickets, set India on the backfoot.

With Kohli in the middle, the Proteas couldn’t breathe easy. Kohli, in his typical fashion, paced his innings by putting the ball in the gaps, converting the ones into twos and twos into threes and keeping India ahead of the required run-rate. He hit only 10 fours and yet managed to score at a strike rate of 94.

Ajinkya Rahane benefitted from having Kohli at the other end and both batsmen put up a record third-wicket partnership of 189 runs to steer India to a comfortable victory. Kohli scored his maiden ODI ton on South African soil, a 119-ball 112 which eclipsed Faf du Plessis’ 120 earlier in the afternoon. While, Rahane’s 86-ball 79, his fifth consecutive fifty in ODIs must have restored some confidence in him as a one-day player.

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