DURBAN: Captain Virat Kohli further enhanced his reputation as a 'chase master' as he smashed his 33rd hundred to lead India to a six-wicket victory over South Africa in the first cricket one-dayer here on Thursday.
Kohli struck 112 off 119 balls with the help of 10 boundaries and put on 189 runs for the third wicket with Ajinkya Rahane (79 runs of 86 balls) as India chased down the target of 270 with 4.3 overs to spare.
It was the highest stand for India in South Africa, while Kohli notched up his 20th hundred in a run-chase, out of which 18 have been successfully converted to victories.
After scoring freely all across the world, this was Kohli's first ODI hundred on South African soil.
Also, this was India's first ODI win against South Africa at Durban, and only their sixth overall in bilateral engagements here since 1992-93.
India got off to a quick start with Rohit Sharma (20) and Shikhar Dhawan (35) adding 33 for the opening wicket. Rohit was looking to play his strokes but miscued one off Morne Morkel (1/35) in the seventh over and was out caught.
Dhawan and Kohli then added 34 runs for the second wicket and the duo were looking good to take advantage of South Africa's spinners, when the former was run-out.
Kohli took off for a quick single in the 13th over but Dhawan was late in responding having taken strike, and was run-out by Aiden Markram's direct throw.
Kohli and Rahane came together thereafter and did not give the Proteas a sniff. Imran Tahir (0/51) was duly taken for runs, while JP Duminy (0/16) and Markram (0/20) had no impact in their short spells.
The most vital aspect of this partnership was the running between wickets. The duo looked to cut down on errors, calling loud and clear. They brought their 100-stand off 112 balls.
Rahane brought up his half-century off 60 balls as their partnership crossed 150 off only 154 balls. India reached 200 in the 36th over.
Kohli then celebrated his maiden hundred on South African soil in style, reaching there off 105 balls. In doing so, he equalled Sourav Ganguly's record of most ODI hundreds as Indian captain. Both now have 11 centuries, with Kohli reaching the milestone in 41 innings as compared to Ganguly's 142 innings.
Rahane was out caught in the 43rd over, while Kohli's innings ended three overs later. He walked off to a rousing reception from the Durban faithful even as the home side were subjected to a demoralizing defeat.
This was after India's leg-spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal shared 5 wickets between them as South Africa were restricted to 269/8.
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.
Proteas' skipper Faf du Plessis (120 runs, 112 balls, 11 fours, 2 sixes) scored his ninth ODI hundred after South Africa's top-order collapse. The hosts lost 4 wickets for 51 runs before du Plessis and Chris Morris (37) rescued them with 74-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Hashim Amla (16) and Quinton de Kock (34) got off to a watchful start. The latter, in particular, took his time for he had been enduring a poor run of form. At the other end, Amla looked in good nick and was scoring at a strike-rate of 90-plus.
They put on 30 runs for the opening wicket before Jasprit Bumrah (1/56) struck in the 8th over. He trapped Amla plumb lbw, albeit was lucky to have his front-foot only millimetres behind the line.
Just before this, India had a major injury scare when Virat Kohli hurt his knee while fielding in the seventh over. He struggled with his right leg for a while thereafter, and even went off to the Indian dugout to get attention from the physiotherapist.
South Africa scored 49/1 in the first 10 overs even as Hardik Pandya (0/41) came on to bowl first-change. More importantly though, Kohli went off the field -- this time to the dressing room to get further treatment -- in this interim as the knee niggle continued to bother him.
Meanwhile, du Plessis began his innings in attacking fashion. He put on 53 runs off 46 balls with de Kock for the second wicket. India had brought on spin from the 11th over itself as Chahal exerted control over proceedings. However, the Proteas' batsmen attacked Pandya and he was expensive in his first spell.
Chahal trapped de Kock lbw in the 15th over, and the batsman walked without bothering for a review. Had he opted for the referral, he would have survived. Du Plessis, alternately, would have been given out lbw on 18 if India had opted for DRS at the end of the 13th over.
The spinners took quick wickets thereafter and did not allow South Africa's partnerships to settle even as 100 came up in the 21st over. Aiden Markram (9) was caught off Chahal shortly after.
Then Yadav got into the act. He bowled JP Duminy (12) with one that kept low, whilst foxing David Miller (7) into a false shot as Kohli completed a smart forward-diving catch at short extra-cover.
Du Plessis reached his half-century off 54 balls and brought up his 50-partnership with Morris off 57 balls. South Africa recovered to reach 200/5 at the end of 40 overs.
Yadav returned for a final spell to bowl Morris in the 41st over. Du Plessis though stood tall and added 56 runs for the seventh wicket with Andile Phehlukwayo (26 not out). In doing so, he brought up his century off 101 balls.