Chennai: Virat Kohli smashed a scintillating ton to help India post a competitive 299 for 8 against South Africa in their must-win fourth ODI of the five-match cricket series here today.
Kohli blasted six fours and five sixes in his 140-ball 138, which is his first century in more than eight months. His last century was against Pakistan in a World Cup match at Adelaide in February early this year.
Kohli shared a 104-run partnership for the third wicket with Ajinkya Rahane (45) in 18.2 overs and then added 127 runs in 18.4 with Suresh Raina (53) for the fourth wicket to catapult India to a fighting total in their stipulated 50 overs.
For South Africa, Dale Steyn (3/61) and Kagiso Rabada (3/54) took three wickets each, while Chris Morris (1/55) scalped one at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here.
Earlier electing to bat, India slumped to 35 for two after both the openers—Rohit Sharma (21) and Shikhar Dhawan (7) were sent back to the pavilion by Morris and Rabada respectively.
Rohit was the first to be dismissed when his uppish shot off Morris found the safe hands of du Plessis at midwicket, while Dhawan's downfall was brought by a stunning catch by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
Kohli and Rahane then joined hands as India scored just 43 runs losing two wickets in the first 10 overs. The duo slowly started accelerating and helped India to cross the 100-mark in 19 overs.
Kohli was the more dominant between the two as he scored his fifty in just 51 balls with the help of two boundaries and two sixes.
The India Test skipper notched up his century in the 38th over when he charged down the ground and blasted a six off Phangiso over long-on. He scored his century in 112 balls, with the help of four fours and three sixes.
Raina too marked his return to form with a 52-ball 53 which was studded with three boundaries and one six before becoming a victim of Steyn. Looking for a big shot, Raina ended up giving a simple catch to de Villiers at midwicket.
In pursuit to score more in the final overs, India lost Kohli and Harbhajan Singh (0) in the same over with Rabada doing the damage in consecutive deliveries of his last over.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (15) too perished in the last over when he tried to play a shot by making room for a short ball from Steyn, only to find de villiers at mid off as India got just 29 runs from the final 30 deliveries, losing 4 wickets in the process.