India lose despite Rohit’s 150

South Africa continued its unbeaten run in the tour by taking a 1-0 lead in the five-match series as M.S. Dhoni and his team struggled to cope with a crisis of reputation despite a valiant chase.

India failed to capitalize on Rohit Sharma's scintillating ton.   -  R.V. Moorthy

Needing 11 runs from the final over, Dhoni top-edged a ball to Rabada's hands, thereby failing to see India through.   -  AP

AB de Villiers grows in stature with every act of his selfless enterprise. On Sunday, the South African captain led from the front by scoring an unbeaten century. He then guided his team to defend a huge aggregate for a thrilling five-run win over India in the first one-day international at the packed Green Park stadium here.

South Africa continued its unbeaten run in the tour by taking a 1-0 lead in the five-match series as M.S. Dhoni and his team struggled to cope with a crisis of reputation despite a valiant chase.

After electing to bat, the visitors banked on de Villiers' explosive century to post 303 for five and choked India well to spoil Rohit Sharma's scintillating 150.

Dhoni enjoyed good control over the proceedings when he employed the spinners on a slow-paced surface.

Following a 45-run opening partnership, South Africa benefited from the pragmatism and application of Hashim Amla (37) and Faf du Plessis (62), who added important 59 runs for the second wicket.

Amla ruled the offside with his wristy elegance while du Plessis, who survived a strong lbw appeal in the first ball he faced, played some handsome strokes on both sides. Amit Mishra breached Amla's defence through a sharp googly that end the partnership.

Du Plessis carried on his good work with captain AB de Villiers to put on 48 runs. The change of pace by Umesh Yadav in the 34th over cut short du Plessis' innings.

De Villiers then took charge and guided his team to a respectable total before launching into the big hits. South Africa scored 40 runs off the last two overs. On a hot summer day, his fireworks reminded one of his entertaining shows in the Indian Premier League (IPL). de Villiers' greatness lay in the way he adapted and switched gears as per requirement.

The Proteas captain collected his first 50 runs off 57 balls and hammered his next 54 runs in just 16 deliveries in a ruthless manifestation of his timing, placement and power. De Villiers reached his 21st ODI century in style by hitting Yadav into the onside stands in the last ball of the South African innings.

Farhaan Behardien's cameo (35) boosted the tourists, who plundered 65 runs in the last five overs with Binny, Bhuvneshwar and Yadav bearing the brunt.

A hapless India struggled as its trump card R. Ashwin, who had provided the breakthrough in his first over, remained in the pavilion for a considerable period of time. Ashwin went off the field in the middle of the 32nd over due to a side strain caused by a diving effort. He returned after the 38th over, but the umpires did not allow Dhoni to utilise the off-spinner's service immediately. Ashwin bowled one more over before retiring to the dressing room again.

India's reply was not meek. Rohit Sharma showcased his effortless strokeplay to notch up his eighth hundred. He and Shikhar Dhawan began brilliantly to put the team on track before the latter was adjudged lbw in the eighth over.

Rohit and his Mumbai mate Ajinkya Rahane, a surprise inclusion in the XI, consolidated the innings with a valuable 149-run stand for the second wicket. Rahane (60) played a passive role and allowed Rohit to flourish.

Even as the duo ran hard between the wickets, Rohit disdainfully smacked the ball all over the park for 13 fours and six sixes to make the South African bowlers, including Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, look helpless.

After Rahane's fall at 191, Rohit took India to the brink of victory before getting out innocuously. Dhoni (31) the finisher tried his best but could not find support from the other end.

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