South Africa thumped India by five wickets to stay alive in the series. India lead the six-match series 3-1. Blues only need one more win to seal the one-day series against South Africa and they have two matches to do it.
While the history of the last five years says South Africa don't lose in pink, the history of the last nine days says they can't win against wrist-spin and India's intention will be to reinforce that. The history continues.
Heinrich Klaasen smashed 43 not out off 27 balls (5 fours, 1 six) and led the Proteas' physical attack on the Indian spinners after rain intervened twice to trim down the game to a 28-over contest.
Lightning and the light rain had first happened during the Indian innings, and it came again early during the South African innings. 113 minutes were lost and South Africa received a 202-run target from 28 overs.
Until then, chasing 290 originally, Hashim Amla (33) and Aiden Markram (22) had given an attacking start. Markram was out lbw in the 8th over in what turned out to be the last ball before the rain came. The hosts were placed at 43/1 at that stage.
After the rain delay, the Proteas needed 159 more off 124 overs, effectively turning this into a T20 game. It didn't help that Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-27) and Jasprit Bumrah (1-21) had already bowled 4 overs each by then.
Amla was joined by JP Duminy (10), but they could only manage to add 24 runs for the 2nd wicket. AB de Villiers (26 off 18 balls) arrived at the crease as the roof came down at the Wanderers and made his intentions clear as he smacked Yuzvendra Chahal (1-68) for two sixes over midwicket.
He looked good for much more but shockingly holed out at fine leg off Hardik Pandya (1-37) in the 17th over as the game turned on its head. At the other end, Amla was caught by Bhuvneshwar off Kuldeep Yadav, the fielder taking an acrobatic catch at the boundary rope.
Suddenly South Africa were reduced to 102/4 with the wrist spinners in action. Then, came the turning point of the game as Chahal bowled David Miller, only for the ball to be deemed a no ball.
Miller made full use of his lives as he went on to smack Pandya for three successive boundaries in an over and also hit Chahal for a six. Overall, he scored 39 off 28 balls, with 4 fours and 2 sixes.
Runs came thick and fast as the spinners thanks to a true batting pitch and dewy conditions due to rain were unable to contain the Proteas for once, going for 119 runs in 11.3 overs.
Earlier, in his 100th match, Shikhar Dhawan (109) scored a 13th hundred as India reached 289/7.
Dhawan put on 158 runs with skipper Virat Kohli (75). It was the 8th-century partnership for the 2nd wicket between these two batsmen, the most in ODIs Indian cricket, drawing level with Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid who also have eight.
Dhawan also became the first Indian batsman to score a hundred in his 100th ODI. Overall, he became the 9th player to reach this milestone.
This was after India won the toss and opted to bat on a true batting surface. The visitors made one change, bringing in Shreyas Iyer for Kedar Jadhav. South Africa made two changes, bringing in Morne Morkel for Imran Tahir.
AB de Villiers, who averages 112.50 in five Pink ODIs, also replaced Khaya Zondo in the Proteas' eleven. The Wanderers was expectedly bathed in pink for a good cause of creating awareness and raising funds for breast cancer.
A change in scenery though didn't reverse Rohit Sharma's floundering fortunes on this tour. He was out inexpensively again, this time for 5 runs off 13 balls, as Kagiso Rabada (2-58) took a brilliant reflex return catch diving forward.
Dhawan and Kohli then came together, replicating their success from previous matches in the series. Together they attacked the South African attack, finding the pitch much to their liking.
Kohli looked unstoppable once again and the highlight of his knock was a straight six off Lungi Ngidi as the batsman just walked down and launched him over the sightscreen.
In doing so, Kohli became the second batsman after de Villiers to score 350-plus runs in an ODI bilateral series on the South African soil.
That break served South Africa well as India lost two wickets in the space of 14 balls after the resumption of play.
Shreyas Iyer (18) was sent out at no.5 and together with MS Dhoni (42 not out), he calmed the situation for India.
Markram dismissed Pandya with a one-handed stunning catch at cover off Rabada as India slipped further in their pursuit of 300. India scored only 89 runs but lost 5 wickets after the rain break.
About the Author
Tanya Attri is a sports journalist who lives in Sonipat and working
for Sports Flashes. She has also worked with Times of India for 5
months as a Junior Editor. She is a sports freak and writes for all
the sports but has special liking for badminton.