South Africa hammer India to clinch ODI series

The mountain of runs South Africa scored proved too steep a climb for India, sliding down the slope to lose the fifth and final ODI match by 214 runs at the Wankhede stadium, here on Sunday. A.B. de Villiers’ brutal 119, Faf du Plessis’ classy 133 and Quinton de Kock’s controlled 109 propelled the visitors to a mammoth 438 for four in 50 overs.

South Africa's captain AB de Villiers celebrates scoring his century during their fifth and final one-day international cricket match against India in Mumbai, on Sunday.   -  Reuters

The mountain of runs South Africa scored proved too steep a climb for India, sliding down the slope to lose the fifth and final ODI match by 214 runs at the Wankhede stadium, here on Sunday. A.B. de Villiers’ brutal 119, Faf du Plessis’ classy 133 and Quinton de Kock’s controlled 109 propelled the visitors to a mammoth 438 for four in 50 overs. The Wankhede stadium had not seen a team chase down such a daunting total as fans had to witness India crumbling to 224 all out in 36 overs.

Mumbai’s Ajinkya Rahane offered a glimpse of strides taken as a batsman, groomed to man India’s frontline for the seasons ahead, relishing pace off the track in a sparkling 87 off 58 balls at number four. He tackled pace, swing and spin with the assurance credited to a performer in form, stroking nine fours and slogging three sixers under the floodlights. De Villiers’ knock was the main course which none could match.

When earlier asked about India’s plan to counter damage to bowlers’ psyche when De Villiers is at the crease, Virat Kohli had expressed relief that he does not have to bowl to the South African maverick and hence doesn’t need to plan. However, he did turn his arm over for two overs before being taken off the firing line. For the six other bowlers, it was a day at work which turned into massacre in broad daylight.

De Villiers reacted at the crease as if programmed by a divine hand, leaving 11 Indians on the field with arched eyebrows and numerous Indians in the stands displaying expressions alternating between shock and delight. He smashed eight sixes and three fours to reach his century off 57 balls, and cleared the ropes three more times in his 61-ball knock, packed with pure entertainment. It was his third century in the five-ODI series.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar received maximum punishment as the frontline bowler, leaking 106 in his 10 overs. Indian bowlers were carted all over the stadium, conceding 20 sixes, 38 boundaries as the visitors fell short of the world record ODI team score of 443 by Sri Lanka against Netherlands.

Despite scoring a ton, du Plessis had to retire early but not before causing enough damage. His innings of 133 from 115 balls which included nine fours and six sixes.

After a few cautious overs against the slow bowlers, Quinton de Kock flexed arms to swat Harbhajan Singh past mid-wicket, hitting his 10th boundary, before taking a single to reach his 42-ball half-century.

The Wankhede track turned a comfort zone for batsmen. DeKock launched into shots against Mohit Sharma, stepping out for a sweep over mid-wicket and followed it with a steer through extra cover for a 78-ball ton, in total command at the crease. The left-hander’s second century in the ODI series was marked by big shots, 16 fours and a six.

Du Plessis picked up the cue from his partner, a cautious 50 off 61 balls before Suresh Raina got the breakthrough. De Kock hit against the turn and the ball found Kohli at long-off. South Africa’s second-wicket stand yielded 154 runs.