Kohli & Co. can clinch maiden ODI series in SA today, but India have lost all their four games in Port Elizabeth
A general view of St George’s Park at Port Elizabeth on the eve of the fifth ODI between India and South Africa yesterday. Pic/BCCI
St George’s Park is not only an inauspicious venue for India because of the Mike Denness affair which saw the late match referee book six Indian players in the 2001-02 Test here. It’s also a ground where India have yet to register a win in any of the four India v South Africa one-day internationals in the Friendly City. Overall, the hosts have won 20 out of their 32 ODIs here.
There was an opportunity to clinch the 2011 one-day series for the first time on South African soil, but India, led then by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, were thwarted by a Protean batting revival and rain later in the evening of January 21. After winning the toss, South Africa were 118 for five at one stage, but ended up scoring 265-7 thanks to JP Duminy, who stayed unbeaten on 71 off 72 balls. The hosts were helped by some lower order hitting from Johan Botha (44 off 59 balls) and Robin Petersen (31 off 35 balls). As it often happens to touring sides in Port Elizabeth, India were in the throes of adversity early on in the chase.
Rohit Sharma, Parthiv Patel and Yuvraj Singh were back in the pavilion before India reached 50, but the visitors were revived by a 63-run fourth-wicket stand between Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina. Kohli continued to be in the thick of the action after having a hand in three South African dismissals earlier in the day.
He took a sharp catch to dismiss Morne van Wyk off Yuvraj Singh after which his brilliant pick-up-and-throw saw Amla out of his crease. He then ran out Faf du Plessis for one. Rain interrupted play for 77 minutes with India 137 for six in the 32nd over. When play resumed, India needed 123 off 87 balls with Kohli scrapping away.
Eight balls later, rain appeared again and this time to cause a 48-run defeat for India through the Duckworth-Lewis method. The South Africans leveled the series 2-2. The final game at Centurion was lost too despite a whirlwind 105 off 70 balls by Yusuf Pathan. Earlier, India lost their games in 1992-93, 1996-97 and 2006-07.
Kohli will be hoping to seal the series today itself. India’s record here is poor and windy conditions may just suit the hosts better, but save the last game in Johannesburg, Kohli’s side are in rich form and winning the first three games of this series should count for something in the expectancy stakes.