New Delhi: Shikhar Dhawan has a knack of taking the attack to the South African bowlers ever since the Champions Trophy in 2013. And on Saturday again, he made his 100th ODI for India special as he scored his 13th ODI century. But, that was not all as he also became the first Indian opener since Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar to hit a century against the Proteas in the Rainbow Nation. Tendulkar and Ganguly had both hit centuries in the opening game of the ODI series at the Wanderers in 2001.
In 2001, Tendulkar and skipper Sourav Ganguly had both hit 100s at the top of the innings as they put on 193 for the opening wicket. While Gamguly finished on 127, Tendulkar hit 101. India finished on 279/5 in their 50 overs, but Gary Kirsten hit an unbeaten 133 as South Africa won the game with 10 balls remaining.
Back to Saturday’s game, Dhawan scored a brisk 109 runs from just 105 balls that included 10 fours and two sixes. In an attempt to score some quick runs, Dhawan fell to Morne Morkel. With this milestone, 100 in his 100th game, Dhawan became the first Indian to achieve the feat, and ninth overall in history of ODI cricket. Some of the other players to have achieved this rare landmark are Chris Gayle, David Warner and Kumar Sangakkara.
But Dhawan’s knock wasn’t enough as South Africa continued to remain unbeaten in ‘Pink ODIs’ as newcomer Heinrich Klaasen starred with the bat to help his side beat India by 5 wickets in a rain curtailed tie in Johannesburg. The win also meant that South Africa stayed alive in the six-match series.
Riding on century from Shikhar Dhawan and yet another half-century from Virat Kohli, India posted a decent total of 289/7 in their designated 50 overs. Then, 7 overs into chase, bad weather forced the players off and reduced South Africa’s target to 202 from 28 overs.
Amla and Duminy resumed proceedings, but Kuldeep removed both of them in quick succession and it seemed spinners would continue to haunt the Proteas. De Villiers decided to attack the spinners, and took 16 runs from Chahal’s first over as South Africa started going for their shots.
When Pandya removed de Villiers for a quickfire 26, it looked as if India might come back into the game. But then, Klaasen and Miller put together 72-runs to take the game away from the visitors.
Some luck and unorthodox aggressive batting was the key for South Africa as they hit the spinners for total of 119 runs in 11.3 overs, Chahal had dismissed Miller on 6 but replays showed that the leg-spinner had overstepped. Miller made full use of the second chance as he ended up 39 off 28 balls.
But some pre-meditated hitting from Klaasen was the key as he remained unbeaten on 43, guiding his team home. Phehlukwayo also smashed 23 off 5 balls as South Africa reached the target with 5 wickets to spare.