Virat Kohli celebrated his 35th birthday today with a spectacular century against the Proteas and the South Africans need 327 runs for a World Cup victory at Eden Gardens.
It was the top batsman’s 49th century of his ODI career; an achievement that puts him on par with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar.
South Africa will have to know its story to score the winning runs on a slow pitch, but Kohli showed the Protea batsmen exactly how things should be done.
He only got used to the conditions after Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill batted like two runaway tires, after which he gradually pressed the accelerator pedal deeper and deeper.
Shreyas Iyer and Surayakumar Yadav provided the necessary momentum injections, while Ravindra Jadeja also scored valuable runs towards the end of the Indian innings.
Marco Jansen, a bowler who is used to taking wickets in the powerplay phase of a match, struggled today and the Indians scored almost 100 runs from his bowling.
However, Keshav Majarah played a cracking shot and together with Kagiso Rabada he was able to turn the run taps a little tighter for such a short time.
Although the pitch is suitable for spin bowling, Tabraiz Shamsi bowled hopelessly too straight and his deliveries troubled a batsman when it spun past the leg-stumpers.
Admittedly, the Proteas showed against Pakistan that they can chase a score successfully and if Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram and David Miller pull this wagon through, it will be an excellent achievement.
- Summary of the scorecard:
India 326/5 after 50 overs: Virat Kohli 101*, Shreyas Iyer 77 and Keshav Maharaj 1/30.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma (captain), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Tabraiz Shamis.
In the: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kholi, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj.