South Africa exposed another gaping hole in India's faulty middle-order with an emphatic win in the opening ODI of the three-match series at Paarl.
Chasing a target of 297, the Indians were restricted to 265/8 in 50 overs and the hosts won the match by 31 runs. KL Rahul (16) failed to leave a mark in his debut as ODI captain but senior pros Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli scored respective half-centuries and revived hosts with their 92-run stand. However, Dhawan (79) was clean bowled by Keshav Maharaj and soon after Kohli (51) was dismissed by Tabraiz Shamsi against the run of play. The hosts didn't let the advantage slip away from their grip after getting the breakthrough and went on finishing it in style.
Team had high hopes from young Turks in the middle-order but Shreyas Iyer (17), Rishabh Pant (16) and debutant Venkatesh Iyer (2) departed without putting up a fight as the top-six were back in the dugout under 190-run mark. The lower-middle order tried to avoid the inevitable as Shardul Thakur scored his maiden ODI fifty but the game was already in SA's grip long back.
Despite losing top-three early, Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen slammed sublime centuries and helped SA post 296/4 batting first.
Captain Bavuma (110) and RVD (129* off 96 balls) forged a massive 204-run stand - the highest fourth-wicket partnership for SA against India in ODIs - and put on a display of quality middle-order batsmanship.
It was their gritty effort that guided hosts to an above-par score. It was a forgettable day for the Indian bowlers as they failed to get breakthroughs in the middle-overs. The 2nd ODI will be held at the same ground on Friday and it will be a must-win one for the Men In Blue.