When the Indian cricket team landed in South Africa last month, a tough contest in all formats was expected between the two teams.
But when South Africa beat Team India in the first two Tests and won the Test series, people thought that Proteas will clean sweep not only the Test series but also the ODI and T20 series.
But from the third Test, the Indian team changed the scenario. First they won the last Test by 63 runs and then surprised the South Africa by winning the One-day International series with an unexpected margin of 5-1.
India took full advantage of injuries to some leading players of South Africa such as skipper Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock. Hashim Amla failed to score runs against India as he averaged only 25.66 in the series. His tally of 154 runs in the series was the highest for South Africa in the ODI series that showed the pathetic performance of their batsmen.
India’s only failure in South Africa came in the fourth ODI, when South Africa won a rain-shortened game. With the ODI series win, India reclaimed the number one position from the hosts South Africa.
This was a very rare poor performance from South Africa at home. They have played 25 bilateral series of five or more matches on their soil, and this was only the third time they lost. The last time they lost an ODI series at home was against Australia in 2001-02. This is the first time India have won an ODI series in South Africa.
This was also the second time that India won five matches in a bilateral ODI series outside Asia. The first instance was against Zimbabwe in 2013.
India became the first team to bowl South Africa out four times in an ODI series. This was the first time after 2004-05 that South Africa lost 50-plus wickets in a bi-lateral ODI series. They lost 53 wickets against England in 2004-05.
It was India’s ninth successive bilateral series win and only the West Indies of the 1980s are ahead of them with 14 consecutive wins.
Indian wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were the heroes of the ODI series as they were virtually unplayable. Dale Benkenstein, the batting coach of South Africa, accepted that their batsmen failed to read Indian wrist spinners.
The spin duo who turned the ODI series in India’s favour shared 33 wickets, which is the most by any pair of spinners in a series. Kuldeep grabbed 17 wickets at 13.88, while Chahal ended with 16 scalps at 16.37 apiece.
The two have replaced the experienced duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja who were not much effective outside the subcontinent.
The batting line was led by skipper Virat Kohli who scored a record 558 runs. He was well supported by opener Shikhar Dhawan (323 runs). Dhawan and Kohli added 486 runs in the recently concluded India-South Africa ODI series which is the most by any Indian pair in a bilateral ODI series outside India.
Kohli became the first batsman ever to score 500 or more runs in a bilateral ODI series. Kohli finished the series with 558 runs with three centuries, a record for an Indian batsman, and one fifty in six innings. He surpassed his teammate Rohit Sharma’s tally of 491 runs which he scored in a home series against Australia in 2013-14. Kohli’s scores in the series were 112, 46*, 160*, 75, 36 & 129*.
Kohli has become only the second batsman after South Africa’s AB de Villiers to attain the 900-point mark concurrently in Test and ODI formats. He is among only five batsmen who have crossed 900 points in both formats of the game.
Kohli started the series with a score to settle in South Africa as it was the only team against which he had not scored an ODI century.
Former skipper MS Dhoni became the third wicket-keeper to take 600-plus catches in international cricket during the fifth ODI at Centurion. He is also the fourth wicket-keeper to effect 400-plus dismissals in ODIs and the first Indian to achieve the feat.