After losing a closely-contested Test series, the Indian team would have wanted to get back at the Proteas in the limited-overs format as the fans were anticipating a much better performance. The Men in Blue were desperate to turn things around in the colored jersey and they did so comfortably with a comprehensive 5-1 win over the hosts.
The collective team effort made the daunting task of defeating the mighty Proteas possible. India excelled in all the three departments, with the skipper smashing centuries at ease while the slower bowlers, Yuzvnedra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav repaid the captain's faith in them by spinning a web around the Proteas's batting lineup. In many ways, it was a memorable series for Team India who entered the ODIs after a disappointing 2-1 loss in Tests.
Let us now look at the records, which grabbed the headlines during India's famous 5-1 series win.
Virat Kohli- Most runs in a bilateral series, 100 catches in ODIs
The run-machine Virat Kohli was at his usual best while chasing a modest target of 205 for victory in the final ODI. He registered his 35th ODI ton, his third of the series. Kohli's unbeaten 129 took his tally to 553 runs in the series, surpassing the previous record held by Rohit Sharma (491 runs against Australia in 2013) for most runs in a bilateral series.
The Indian captain also took his 100th catch (in 208 ODIs) during the sixth ODI at Centurion, thereby becoming the fifth Indian fielder to join the elite club of players with 100 or more catches in ODIs. Kohli joined the likes of Mohammad Azharuddin (156 catches), Sachin Tendulkar (140 catches), Rahul Dravid (125 catches) and Suresh Raina (100 catches) after achieving this milestone.
As a captain, the 29 year-old also became the first ever Indian skipper to win a bilateral ODI series in South Africa.
MS Dhoni- 600 ODI catches
During the sixth ODI at Centurion, the former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the first Indian and third wicket-keeper overall to take 600 catches in international cricket after Mark Boucher and Adam Gilchrist.
‘Captain Cool’ MS Dhoni made his ODI debut in December 2004 against Bangladesh and Test debut in December 2005 against Sri Lanka and has scored 8976 runs in Tests and nearly 10,000 runs in the ODIs. He is not only India’s most successful wicket-keeper, but also the most successful captain having won all the ICC trophies. This milestone is another feather in the cap for the legend, who has been excellent behind the stumps for India for more than 13 years.
Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal- Most wickets in a bilateral series
The spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal played a massive role in India’s series triumph in South Africa. They have been consistent throughout the series, rattling up the Proteas batting line-up one game after another.
At the Super-sport Park, they established a record of most wickets in a bilateral series among Indian spinners (minimum five matches). The duo took a staggering 33 wickets between them in the six-match ODI series and are currently in the fourth position in terms of this milestone.
Only Sri Lanka (38 wickets in seven ODIs against England in 2014) and Bangladesh (against Zimbabwe in 2009 and the West Indies in 2012- five ODIs each) are above India on this list. Additionally, both Yadav and Chahal have created individual records for most wickets for a spinner in a bilateral series, with 17 and 16 scalps respectively. Quite a remarkable series for the spin twins!
Team India- A historic first
The Indians have an exemplary record when it comes to the ICC tournaments in South Africa. They finished as the runners-up to Australia during the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup in South Africa while in 2007, they won the inaugural ICC World T20 under MS Dhoni at Johannesburg.
But a bilateral series win against the hosts had eluded them for many years. This time, with arguably the strongest squad to have toured South Africa, they have re-written the history as India won its first ever bilateral ODI series in South Africa, comprehensively beating the hosts 5-1. A historic win for the ‘Men in Blue’ under Virat Kohli!