India vs SA 3rd ODI: South Affrica won the Match by 18 runs
RAJKOT:Like the proverbial calm before the storm, captain M.S. Dhoni stole runs through placements and sharp singles, in between crunching shot to the ropes. Virat Kohli, busy at the crease, was the perfect foil as India was in pursuit of the target of 271 in the third ODI against South Africa under the floodlights.South Africa A.B. de Villiers tested the batsmen with pace and turn. He shuffled his bowlers like a juggler doing the balancing act, and had fielders patrolling the ropes in anticipation of explosive shots. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir proved frugal and off-spinner J-P. Duminy bowled stump-to-stump.The end game began in the 41st over with 86 runs needed from 10 overs. Dhoni stepped out for an imperious drive through extra-cover off Duminy. Then, Morne Morkel dug in short of length, Dhoni kept track and tried to glide it over third man, did not connect cleanly and lobbed a catch. India needed 78 from eight overs, with the skipper gone (47 from 61 balls).When the storm broke, India was blown away. Tahir outwitted Suresh Raina in the second ball he faced; Morkel (four for 39) dismissed top scorer Kohli (77 off 99 balls) to light up the victory path. South Africa won by 18 runs at the SCA stadium, up 2-1 in the five-match series. The home team managed 252 for six in 50 overs.India’s chase began in style, opener Rohit Sharma leaning into boundaries against pacers Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada. Morkel at backward square-leg messed up a chance when the batsman pulled, the ball going through the fielder’s hands.Dhawan reached out in an attempt to drive, guiding the ball on the offstump from Morkel behind. de Villiers latched on, with a tumble to his left. India’s 50 came off 12.2 overs, slower than South Africa’s 8.3 overs, an indication of the dot balls consumed in between stylish strokes.de Villiers banked on Rabada’s raw pace and leg-spinner Tahir’s wiles to put a check on the in-form Rohit and Kohli growing in confidence. The opener walked to swat a six over Tahir’s head to cross the half-century mark in 65 balls (6×4, 2×6). India was on course at 100 for one after 22 overs, 170 behind.South Africa sensed a turnaround when the other slow bowler struck — Duminy foxed the Indian opener by adjusting his length and pouched a tame return catch. Rohit had done his part with an attractive 65 (74b, 7×4, 2×6) before making an exit when best-placed to complete the task. India was 147 behind after 25 overs, at 124 for two.