Kanpur, Oct 12: It was a match which India should have won but ended up losing by 5 runs in a last-over thriller at Kanpur's Green Park stadium on Sunday (October 11). South Africa held their nerve to go 1-0 ahead in the 5-match ODI series.
Chasing 304 for victory, India rode on a brilliant knock of 150 by opener Rohit Sharma. The hosts were cruising for most part of the game but things changed in the last 5 overs.
Here are 5 major reasons for India's defeat (Finisher Dhoni takes blame for loss)
1. R Ashwin's injury
Off-spinner Ashwin, playing in his 100th ODI, was bowling an outstanding spell. However, he stint was cut short by a side strain sustained on the field of play after diving to his right to stop a ball off his own bowling. Ashwin could manage only 4.4 overs (1/14). The loss of rest of his 5.2 overs resulted in South Africa going berserk in the final 10 overs and post 303/5 in 50 overs. Even captain MS Dhoni mentioned that losing Ashwin to injury was a big blow.
2. Imran Tahir's double-wicket over
India needed 35 runs off 24 balls. 7 wickets were left and Rohit Sharma was batting on 150. It should have been an easy ride to the finish line. But the 47th over from leg-spinner Tahir turned the game. He accounted for Rohit on the 1st ball and sent back Suresh Raina on the 5th delivery. The double jolt was too much for India to recover from.
3. Final 6 overs in South Africa's innings
Bowling at the death has been a concern for India. The inabilities were exposed again in Kanpur as South Africa batsmen plundered 86 runs in the final 6 overs of the innings. From 217/3 in 44 overs, they raced to 303/5 in 50.
4. AB de Villiers' brilliance
In any format of the game, De Villiers is always a danger man for the opposition. Currently one of the best batsmen in the world across all 3 formats, skipper De Villiers proved his worth again. He smashed a 73-ball 104 not out helping South Africa past 300 on a difficult pitch.
5. Young Kagiso Rabada's superb final over
With 11 runs required to win off the final 6 balls, India still had hope with MS Dhoni on strike. But the 20-year-old paceman Rabada, only in his 6th ODI, held his nerve to take Dhoni and Stuart Binny's wickets off successive balls. Rabada conceded only 5 runs (1 double and 2 singles) and South Africa won by 5 runs.