Kanpur, Oct 11 (IANS) Rohit Sharma’s swashbuckling knock of 150 runs off 133 deliveries went in vain as India suffered a five-run defeat against South Africa in the first of their five-match One-Day International (ODI) series at the Green Park stadium here on Sunday.
After South Africa scored 303/5 — thanks to a blistering unbeaten 104 by skipper AB de Villiers, Rohit’s eighth ODI ton put India in a strong position. But after the Mumbai right-hander’s departure, the visiting bowlers clawed their way back into the game to contain the home side’s middle-order batsmen.
Earlier, de Villiers scored his 21st century in just 73 balls as he blasted five fours and six sixes to pulverise the Indian bowlers and help his side register the highest total at the venue. Ravichandran’s side strain injury further helped the visitors as the Tamil Nadu off-spinner could only bowl 4.4 overs in which he picked up a wicket and gave away just 14 runs.
The visiting captain got a strong base to kick on as openers Quinton de Kock (29) and Hashim Amla (37) gave him a decent start.
After Ashwin dismissed de Kock, caught by Suresh Raina at slip, South Africa were 45 for one in 8.4 overs. Faf du Plessis (62) joined hands with Amla to forge a 59-run partnership as the former recorded his 17th ODI fifty.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra broke the partnership by bowling out Amla with a faster one and it brought de Villiers to the centre, with his team at 104/2 in 23.2 overs.
The 31-year-old got into business from the word go and alongwith du Plessis, the South Africans negotiated the Indian bowling with ease.
After a 48-run stand, du Plessis perished, adjudged leg before wicket (LBW) against right-arm pacer Umesh Yadav.
With the score at 152/3 in 33.1 overs, left-hander David Miller came in to support his captain but the former was stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Mishra.
De villiers was then joined by Jean-Paul Duminy (15) and the duo got into the act of collecting quick runs with the captain already on the job having completed his half-century off 54 balls.
In the first ball of the 46th over, Yadav forced an edge off left-hander Duminy to bring Ferhan Bahardien (35 in 19 balls) to the middle and he started hitting all around the park.
De Villiers, playing his his 191st match, hit a six to reach his three-figure mark and help his side cross 300.
Chasing the 304-run target, Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane (60) kept India in the hunt with a 149-run stand for the second wicket. They joined hands after Shikhar Dhawan (23) fell to a leg before wicket (LBW) decision against tall pacer Morne Morkel.
Both the Mumbaikars — Rohit and Rahane — used their feet to good effects — at times slightly moving ahead, tucking it away and hanging back to attempt a square cut or a square drive.
Rohit played all around the park against both pacers and spinners. As the partnership ended with Rahane’s fall, India were 191/2 in 33.4 overs.
Rohit, later, also made good use of hook and pull shots — one six each off Morkel and Dale Steyn — as he collected 13 fours and six fours during his innings even though Virat Kohli (11) was not able to support him.
Skipper Dhoni (31 in 30 balls) forged a 55-run stand with Rohit as the latter was lucky to survive after wicketkeeper de Kock made a mess of a run out chance.
With India at 269/3 in 46 overs, Rohit was dismissed with a return catch to leg-spinner Imran Tahir. That over changed the complexion of the match as reliable Raina (3) soon walked back to the pavilion.
With 31 required off the final three overs, Dhoni and Stuart Binny (2) collected 20 runs in the next two, leaving 11 runs for the final over.
However, young seamer Kagiso Rabada conceded only four runs in his first three deliveries and in the next two dismissed both the batsmen, paving the way for a five-run victory over the hosts.
The second match of the ODI series shall be played at Indore on October 14.