Rival captains, Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis, both scored superb centuries but in the end India coasted to a comfortable six-wicket victory with almost five overs to spare in the opening One Day International (ODI) at Kingsmead, in Durban, on Thursday.
Du Plessis shared partnerships of 74 with Chris Morris and 56 with Andile Phehlukwayo for the sixth and seventh wickets. The allrounder conceded 28 runs in just three overs in his first spell but with South Africa gaining momentum, Chahal struck at the right time to peg the hosts back.
"I thought the Indian spinners bowled well, but still, we should have been better against them. They tied South Africa down, cut off the runs and then got two big scalps of Quinton de Kock and David Miller", he explained.
"Jinx (Ajnkya Rahane) is a top class player".
There is simply no one better than Kohli in a run-chase with the batting maestro now averaging a ton every six games while chasing.
"We would have batted first here as well. He was superb, he took on the fast bowlers".
When asked if he had suffered any injury while fielding, Du Plessis said, "Just a few battle scars".
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Du Plessis carried his side as his team mates were strangled by India's wrist spinners, slumping to 134-5 with Kuldeep Yadav the pick of the bunch as he finished with figures of 3-34 in an economical 10-over spell. Now he's taken Faf du Plessis out of the mix.
But overall, India's record against South Africa isn't that bad as with winning percentage of 39.18, India sealed victory in 29 ODIs out of 45. Picking up one or two wickets in the top ten is what we wanted to do.
India skipper Virat Kohli blasted his 33rd ODI century as the visitors kick- started their limited overs series campaign in South Africa in grand fashion. "I reckon we were about 50-60-70 runs short". They are working wonderfully for the team. But if you are chasing 4 runs per over off Tahir, he is not as effective.
If not for skipper Faf du Plessis' ninth ODI hundred, South Africa could have folded for a lesser total yesterday.
"South African batsmen wouldn't have seen a lot of these leggies, so they will need to go back and do their homework".
"As a captain, it's outstanding when you have two guys who know what they want to do".