The Men in Blue, already the top-ranked Test team, are all set to take over the No1 team ranking in the 50-overs format when the series comes to a conclusion, a feat which will give them the bragging rights in Tests and ODIs.
One more win from the remaining three games will make it nine bilateral series victories on the trot for Kohli’s men. Only one team in the history of ODI cricket has won more – the mighty West Indies side which won 14 bilateral series in succession between 1980 and 1988.
This run by India has included wins over New Zealand, England and Australia. In between this remarkable stretch, they also made it to the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in England last year before succumbing to Pakistan at the last hurdle.
Such dominance has made India early favourites for the 2019 World Cup along with hosts England. Naturally, comparisons are being made between the current Indian side and MS Dhoni’s team that lifted the 2011 World Cup on home soil.
Only two players remain from the 2011 side that beat Sri Lanka in the final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai – former skipper Dhoni and the current leader. Three if you include Suresh Raina who is back in the T20 team.
Dhoni’s men had the luxury of having the great Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag open the batting. They are one of the most successful opening pairs in world cricket with 12 century stands between them in 93 matches. The current opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma is right up there, with 12 three-figure partnerships already in 72 matches.
The current side also has the advantage of having the greatest one-day batsman of the modern era in Kohli. The skipper, having registered his 34th one-day ton, is poised to better Tendulkar’s tally of 49 ODI centuries – a mark which seemed unreachable at one point.
Kohli also boasts of a bowling attack capable of overpowering any opposition following the emergence of wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Dhoni had to make do with Harbhajan Singh, who was already on his way down during 2011 campaign.
In Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, they have two pacers just as good if not better than Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel. The current new-ball pair has seen their stocks rise rapidly in limited-overs cricket with their ability to pick wickets at the start while being tight during the death overs.
Kohli’s squad looks almost ready with the World Cup now just over a year away. However, it is the middle-order that is still a concern. The likes of Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane and Shreyas Iyer have all been tried out at various times over the past few seasons but no batsman has sealed the spot.
Also, the 2011 side had the all-round capabilities of man-of-the-tournament Yuvraj Singh at their disposal. His explosive batting lower down the order along with crucial wickets through his left-arm spin were the driving force behind India’s victorious campaign.
Kohli and the team management will be hoping that Hardik Pandya improves his game by the time the World Cup starts. They also have to make do with a Dhoni whose is losing his edge with the bat. While the veteran remains one of the best keepers in the limited-overs format, the spark in his batting is long gone. This has seen India struggle to accelerate in the death overs.
Ultimately, while Kohli’s team is as good if not better than their 2011 counterparts in the top-order and bowling attack, they are missing a few crucial pieces.
Results indicate they are one of the best ODI sides India have produced but until they win a World Cup, they can’t be called the best. But they do seem well on their way towards becoming one.
Virat Kohli‘s team amassed 303-6 in their 50 overs after being sent in to bat by Aiden Markram. Captain Kohli made his second century of the series, smashing an unbeaten 160 to go with scores of 112 and 46 not out in the first two games.
In reply, the Proteas were bundled out for 175 as they suffered a rare loss in what is their favourite home venue in ODI cricket.
We take a look at the good and the bad from India’s comprehensive win.
KOHLI THE KING OF ODIs
Is there any stopping Virat Kohli in his current form? After registering his first-ever ODI ton on South African soil in the opening game, Kohli went one step further in Cape Town.
After India lost Rohit Sharma early, Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan steadied the ship with a 140-run stand for the second wicket. Kohli then had to watch as wickets tumbled around him following Dhawan’s dismissal. Even so, he made batting look easy on a wicket that was far from flat.
After reaching his century, Kohli led the hunt for late runs as he forged an unbeaten 67-run stand with Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The 29-year-old brought up his 150 towards the end and finished India’s innings with a massive six and boundary.
NO STOPPING THE SPIN TWINS
South Africa needed to find a way to combat India’s wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. If the Proteas did have a new gameplan after struggling against them in the first two ODIs, it wasn’t to be seen on Wednesday as the pair decimated the hosts once again.
Kuldeep broke a dangerous second-wicket stand between Aiden Markram and JP Duminy in his very first over before returning to dismiss Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo and Lungi Ngidi. Chahal on the other hand, also accounted for four Proteas batsmen.
With this, the two have have now accounted for 21 of the 28 South African wickets to fall in three matches.
MS DHONI’S STRUGGLES CONTINUE
That MS Dhoni has lost his edge with the bat over the last few years is well known. The veteran wicketkeeper-batsman came into bat after Hardik Pandya’s dismissal. With the skipper going great guns at the other end, all Dhoni had to do was play the supporting role but he struggled.
The 36-year-old was unable to rotate strike effectively and put pressure on himself. The scoreboard pressure got to Dhoni as he stepped out to take on Imran Tahir but miscued his shot into the hands of the long-on fielder.
That dismissal brought an end to Dhoni’s scratchy 22-ball knock that yielded only 10 runs. He did affect his 400th ODI dismissal behind the stumps but in front of the wickets, Dhoni had a forgettable day.
HASHIM AMLA FALLS EARLY
For the third time in as many matches, Hashim Amla was dismissed before India’s spinners came on to bowl. The opening batsman is the best player of spin in the side, especially in the absence of AB De Villiers and Faf du Plessis. With India’s spinners wreaking havoc, the hosts needed their best batsman to stay at the crease a lot longer.
However, Amla survived just two balls in the chase and with him, went most of South Africa’s hopes. The right-handed batsman missed the line altogether against a straight Jasprit Bumrah delivery while trying to shuffle across the stumps. The 34-year-old was trapped plumb in front and the umpire had no hesitation in sending him back.
Virat Kohli’s numbers in ODI cricket are staggering. There is no other way to put it. His unbeaten knock of 160 against South Africa in the third ODI in Cape Town was his 34th century in his 205th ODI, which is simply an unbelievable statistic.
Sachin Tendulkar is by far the most prolific batsman in ODI cricket with 49 centuries and 18,426 runs from 463 matches. That’s over 4,000 runs more than the next best (Kumar Sangakkara 14,234 runs) and 15 centuries more than the next man on the list – Kohli on 34. However, the rate at which the current Indian captain is churning out runs has put Kohli on track to leave the Mumbai master well behind when it comes to scoring centuries.
After 205 ODIs, Tendulkar had 7,593 runs at an average of 42.4. Kohli has 9,348 at an average of 57.3 at the same stage of his career. Kohli’s current rate of a century every 6.02 matches means if he ends up playing 463 ODIs and keeps up his scoring rate, he will end up with 77 centuries.
If you thought Sachin’s record of 49 ODI tons is amazing, just wait until Kohli is finished with his 50-over career.
Given Kohli’s fitness and age (29), it is safe to assume he will be good enough to play for at least six to seven more years. He made his debut in 2008 and has played 205 ODIs so far. And if he somehow plays around 260 more games, Kohli will not only shatter Tendulkar’s century record and reach a level that will most likely be beyond any other cricketer, he will also overtake the Little Master’s tally of 18,426 runs. Kohli is halfway there and looks good to break every record in the book.
Four hundreds in his last six ODI innings for Kohli. Would have been five in six if South Africa hadn't been so selfishly bowled out for 118 in the last match.— Peter Miller (@TheCricketGeek) February 7, 2018