At a time when many questioned his bold selection and raised doubts over his captaincy, Virat Kohli replied his critics with scoring his 33rd ODI century off 105 balls in the first ODI to boost India's confidence in a tough 270-run chase at Kingsmead, Durban, on Thursday.
Kohli scored nine boundaries in his fearless 105-ball knock. He scored 112 runs off 119 balls, with 10 boundaries. Besides him, India's latest No 4 recruit Ajinkya Rahane contributed with 79 runs as India defeated South Africa by 6 wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the six-match ODI series.
The No 1 ODI batsman is now 16 centuries short of Sachin Tendulkar's record of 49 ODI hundreds. Recently, he was bestowed with ICC ODI batsman of the year besides many top awards at the ICC annual awards event.
After dismissals of openers Rohit Sharma (20) and Shikhar Dhawan (35), Kohli and Rahane established a record highest partnership of 180 runs (unbeaten) for the third wicket against South Africa.
Century for Virat Kohli. The India captain gets to three figures with two boundaries off Phehlukwayo. His 33rd century and India are now 248/2. They need just 22 from 9 overs #SAvIND #MomentumODI pic.twitter.com/Jd4tToI7aY— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) February 1, 2018
Earlier, captain Du Plessis led from the front with an impressive 120 as he single-handedly took South Africa to 269 for eight in their first innings.
India's leg-spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal shared five wickets among them in an impressive bowling show but du Plessis ensured that the Proteas have a competitive total on board after opting to bat.
Du Plessis scored his eighth ODI hundred after a half-empty Kingsmead Stadium bore witness to South Africa's top-order collapse. The hosts lost four wickets for 51 runs before du Plessis and Chris Morris (37) rescued them with a 74-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
The Protea skipper faced 112 balls from which he hit 11 fours and 2 sixes.
For India, Yadav took 3/34 and Chahal returned 2/45 as the duo excelled in their first proper overseas outing, underlining the team management's faith in leg-spin since July last year.
Earlier, in an unfortunate incident, captain Kohli got an injury scare during the first innings in Durban. During the second ball of the seventh over of South Africa's innings, Kohli's knee got stuck into the dampish outfield while fielding at mid-off. (Read full story)
Cricket fraternity hails centurion Virat Kohli
Congratulations India on a very comprehensive victory. While Kohli and Rahane were outstanding, Chahal and Kuldeep ‘s spell was a big difference as well. #INDvSA— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) February 1, 2018
As clinical as it gets. This is not just a victory but a statement. Kohli and Rahane were outstanding. #INDvSA— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) February 1, 2018
Congratulations India. Very well done. A great start to the series. Very happy for Rahane. #INDvSA— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) February 1, 2018
(With PTI inputs)