Shardul Thakur © AFP
Shardul Thakur © AFP

Aiden Markram said at the toss that it was a belter of a track. Virat Kohli, too, was on the same page, but wanted to test his batsmen. He thus opted to bowl. India replaced Bhuvneshwar Kumar with Shardul Thakur, the fourth Mumbai player in the playing XI.

Things started as described by Markram. He scythed consecutive boundaries off Thakur in the first over. Hashim Amla followed it up with a loft over cover for a boundary, but the extra bounce got the better of him soon. He snicked to MS Dhoni while pulling one down the leg, giving Thakur his first wicket of the innings.

Markram continued timing the ball to the fence. However, while doing so, he found Shreyas Iyer at mid-on: Iyer pulled off an absolute stunner to cut South Africa’s momentum short. The wicket, yet again, fell off Thakur.

South Africa had decided to counterattack the wrist-spinner. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, on the other hand, bowled too short initially. Khaya Zondo pounced upon them and walloped them over the deep mid-wicket. AB de Villiers joined the party as well, but he soon departed off Chahal’s wrong ’un. The ball hurried onto him when he rocked back and tried to play it late. He went for 30 off 34.

Heinrich Klaasen had a good start as well, though he took time to get his eye in. Kohli, meanwhile, kept rotating his bowlers in order to unsettle the South Africans. The stratagem worked big time. Jasprit Bumrah had Klaasen caught at short cover by Kohli. Thakur, from the other end, got the better of Farhaan Behardien in the very next over. South Africa lost half the side for 136 runs in 31.2 overs.

Chris Morris, who has not been in his elements this series, threw away his wicket for 4. Kuldeep lured him into clearing long-off. Shikhar Dhawan took a simple catch.

Zondo’s innings was the only saving grace for South Africa. He reached his maiden ODI fifty after spending a lot of time in forties. That being said, he played victim to spin as well. Chahal bowled one away from Zondo’s body. Although he managed to middle it, he could not go past Hardik Pandya at extra cover. He went for 54 off 74 including three fours and two sixes.

Andile Phehlukwayo and Morne Morkel then frustrated India by adding 36 off 32 for the eighth wicket. Phehlukwayo smacked consecutive sixes off Thakur, but Thakur removed him in the same over. South Africa were bundled out for 204.

Brief scorecard:

South Africa 205 in 46.5 overs (Aiden Markram 24, Khaya Zondo 54; Shardul Thakur 4 for 52) vs India.

Full scorecard