Skipper Virat Kohli slammed his 34th One-day International ton to help India post a competitive 303/6 against South Africa, even as the visitors’ untested middle order failed to click in the third of the six-match ODI series, at Newlands here on Wednesday.
Continuing his glorious run in the tour, Kohli (160 not out off 159 balls; 4X12, 6X2), who slammed 112 and 46 not out in the first two ODIs, shouldered the Indian innings single-handedly to power his team to a huge total in anticipation that the visitors register a historic 3-0 lead on South African soil.
Barring the 139-run second wicket stand with opener Shikhar Dhawan (73 off 63; 4X12), Kohli received very little support from the other batsmen, before tailender Bhuvneshwar Kumar (16 off 19; 4X1) chipped in to add an unbeaten 67 runs for the seventh wicket.
Put in to bat, India were immediately on the backfoot with opener Rohit Sharma (0) continuing his struggle at the top of the order, before Kohli and Dhawan joined forces to take the attack to the opposition.
Kohli started off vulnerably, escaping an lbw call on nought off Kagiso Rabada, thanks to a huge inside edge but settled down quickly to launch the counter attack.
Dhawan, at the other end, continued his merciless attack on the home bowlers, to bring up his 25th ODI fifty off 42 balls with a boundary off leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
South Africa’s frustration was evident from the fact that the Indian pair went on to better their own record (93 runs) of the highest partnership for the second wicket against the Proteas.
Just when the Indian pair started looking invincible, part-time off-spinner Jean Paul Duminy came to the rescue of the hosts with the crucial wicket of Dhawan, who chipped wide off midwicket only to be latched on by stand-in captain Aiden Markram.
Duminy jolted India once again with the wicket of No.4 Ajinkya Rahane (11), before all-rounder Hardik Pandya (14), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (10) and Kedar Jadhav (1) made their way back in quick succession.
In the middle of all the drama, Kohli kept his calm to bring up his 34th ODI century off 119 balls, when he flicked Duminy behind leg for two runs.
Precariously placed at 236/6, India could hardly dream of a total past 300, but Bhuvneshwar Kumar repeated his feats of the Test series and gave Kohli the license to hammer the South Africans at will.
For the hosts, Duminy was the pick of the bowlers returning 2/60, while Rabada, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo and Tahir chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Brief Scores: India 303/6 (Virat Kohli 160 not out, Shikhar Dhawan 76, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 16 not out; J.
P. Duminy 2/60) vs South Africa.