India sustained their winning momentum from Johannesburg, as Virat Kohli's hundred helped the tourists register their first ever win against the Proteas at Durban. The win helped India take a 1-0 lead in the Freedom Series.
Opting to bat first after winning the toss at Kingsmead, South African skipper Faf du Plessis compiled an outstanding hundred to bring about his team's revival after they had been reduced to 134/5 against the wily spin of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, and took them to a competitive 269/8.
The South African skipper's effort went in vain though, as India, buoyed by a record-breaking third wicket stand between Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, strolled past the finish line with six wickets to spare.
Here's a look at some of the key takeaways from the first ODI:
#5 Hardik Pandya's role as fifth bowler
Virat Kohli went in with an attacking option of playing two wrist spinners in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, which meant Hardik Pandya had to fill in as the third seamer alongside Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
He didn't have the best of starts though as Quinton de Kock and du Plessis targetted India's weak link from the outset, taking him for 18 runs in his third over. That forced Kohli to turn to Kedar Jadhav's innocuous off-spin to fill in, and he bowled three unsuccessful overs for 19 runs. Kohli brought Pandya back after South Africa had been reduced to 134/5. The move didn't make any impact though as he once again proved expensive, failing to complete his quota of ten overs yet again.
Though the wrist spinners made up for India's lack of a fifth bowler, Kohli and the team management need to define Pandya's role moving forward.
#4 South Africa's unbeaten home-streak and India's Durban jinx
South Africa have been on quite a role in ODI cricket at home, having won 17 matches on the bounce, their last defeat coming way back in early 2016 against England. The run started in 2016 when they beat England 3-2 after losing the first two matches and followed it up with the win in a one-off ODI against Ireland and whitewashes over Australia (5-0), Sri Lanka (5-0) and finally Bangladesh (3-0).
This was India's first win at Kingsmead after having lost last six of the previous seven matches against the Proteas.
India's record at Durban against South Africa
#3 Fourth instance of both captains scoring a hundred in the same ODI
The first ODI between South Africa and India saw both captains Faf du Plessis (120) and Virat Kohli (112) score hundreds in the same match. It was just the fourth such instance in the history of one day international cricket, with Kohli featuring on the coveted list for the third time.
The ton also helped Kohli equal the record of most hundreds by an Indian captain (11), in just 41 innings, set previously by Sourav Ganguly, who took 142 innings to achieve the feat.
Instances of both Captains scoring a hundred in the same ODI
1) William Porterfield-Eoin Morgan, Dublin 2013.
2) Virat Kohli-Mushfiqur Rahim, Fatullah 2014
3) Virat Kohli-Anjelo Mathews, Ranchi 2014
4) Virat Kohli-Faf Du Plessis, Durban 2018
#2 India's wrist-spinners
India's young wrist spinners in Kuldeep Yadav (3/34) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/45) vindicated their captain's trust in them as they applied the screws on the South African innings in the middle overs.
Having lost Hashim Amla early, Quinton de Kock got into the groove as he notched up a 50 run partnership with skipper Faf du Plessis, the duo targeting India's third seamer - Hardik Pandya. Kohli's move to bring Chahal into the attack paid immediate dividends as the leggie got one to turn back into the left-hander de Kock and rap him on the pads.
The wicket opened the floodgates for India as the wrist spinners made a telling impact in the middle overs, striking at regular intervals. The duo gave away 79 runs between them, notching up five wickets in the middle overs, which eventually turned out to be the difference between the two sides.
#1 Rahane stamping his authority
The No. 4 spot in the Indian ODI set-up has been a game of musical chairs with as many as seven players tried and tested over the past 12 months. India had their latest No. 4 in Ajinkya Rahane at Kingsmead, someone who played at the same position in the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
Rahane came in to bat after India had lost Shikhar Dhawan to a bizarre run out leaving the visitors precariously placed at 68/2. Rahane looked very comfortable from the outset as he complimented Kohli with exquisite cuts and drives and swift running between the wickets.
Their 189-run stand broke the record for India's third wicket partnership vs South Africa, the previous best being 158 between Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid at Belfast, 2007. Rahane made a brilliant 79, his 5th consecutive fifty in as many innings, a record emulated previously once by Sachin Tendulkar (1994) and twice by Virat Kohli (2013 & 2014) respectively.
It was also Rahane's fourth successive fifty at number four with his scores reading 87, 89, 50 and 79, three of which came more than three years ago. A string of such performances in the upcoming matches might just help India solve the number four conundrum once and for all.