Virat Kohli scored his first ODI century against South Africa and first in 14 innings since the World Cup to anchor an authoritative Indian batting performance, which saw them post their highest score of the series so far. Kohli starred in two century stands – the first with Ajinkya Rahane and the second with Suresh Raina, who scored a much-needed half-century after back-to-back ducks – to put India in a promising position to square the series.
But their bowlers will be wary of suffering the same fate as South Africa’s six-man attack whose seamers erred with overuse of the short ball and whose slower bowlers were ineffective despite the pace of the surface. They missed Morne Morkel – who was out with an quad injury and could have generated awkward bounce – especially early on when there was some lift on offer, and his replacement, Chris Morris, ended up being the most expensive of the South African seamers. But they will be satisfied with the way they pulled it back in the end.
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Toss India chose to bat v South Africa
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Shikhar Dhawan was afforded another opportunity to find form for India as he kept his place at the top of the order despite a string of low scores in the series and he would have a chance to change that immediately. MS Dhoni opted to post a total on a Chennai pitch he expected to slow up later in the match, which is also why India chose to keep their trio of spinners.
Axar Patel, Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh all kept their places in an attack which also featured two seamers, but not the recent call-up S Aravind. The left-armer was left to carry drinks with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma doing the seam bowling duties.
South Africa also expected turn and included two specialist spinners for the first time in the series. Left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso joined Imran Tahir in the XI, with Morne Morkel, who picked up a quad injury in Rajkot, missing out. South Africa made up for their missing seamer by including allrounder Chris Morris in place of the injured JP Duminy and decided to continue using David Miller to open the batting.
India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Ajinkya Rahane 4 Virat Kohli, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Mohit Sharma
South Africa: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 Farhaan Behardien, 6 David Miller, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Dale Steyn, 9 Aaron Phangiso, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Imran Tahir
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.