Cape Town, January 23: South Africa defeated India by a slender margin of 4 runs in the 3rd ODI which went down the wire. Having set a target of 288, the Temba Bavuma-led side restricted the visitors to 283 in Cape Town and completed a comprehensive series whitewash.
Having already lost the Test and ODI series, India - who looked for a consolation win today - saw a repeat of their batsmen not living up to the expectations. The storyline remained the same for India during the entire tour when the batters failed to convert the start into big knocks.
All-rounder Deepak Chahar once again showcased a never die attitude as he hit a brilliant half-century under pressure and his 55-run partnership with Jasprit Bumrah at number 8, brought the tourists tantalisingly close to winning the game. With 10 required off the final 12 balls, Chahar played a rash shot and was caught at the cover region by Dwaine Pretorious off Lungi Ngidi and that proved fatal. In the end, SA bowlers held on to their nerves and prevented India from crossing the line.
India lost captain KL Rahul early in the run chase when the opener was dismissed for 9 by Lungi Ngidi. Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli revived the innings with their steady partnership. Andile Phehlukwayo, however, ended the 98-run stand between Dhawan and Kohli when he got rid of Dhawan for 61.
Dhawan tried to pull the short-pitched delivery from the pacer but couldn't time it well as the ball went high in the air to be pouched comfortably by Quinton de Kock. Soon India lost their third wicket when Rishabh Pant - the new man-in - departed for a duck as he was dismissed in the same over while trying to hit a six on the first delivery.
Kohli went on notching up a fighting fifty and it looked like the 'chase-master' was back at it as he tried to revive India with Shreyas Iyer. But to the Indian's disappointment, he was dismissed by Keshav Maharaj for 65 as he mistimed the quicker one from the spinner.
India's middle-order turned out to be another major letdown as Iyer (26) and Suryakumar Yadav (39) - who had an opportunity to shine - succumbed to the scoreboard pressure.
Earlier in the day, Quinton de Kock smashed his 17th ODI ton but a spirited bowling effort in the death overs from India resulted in South Africa getting bundled out for the first time in the series.
A collective effort from the bowlers, coupled with some impressive fielding efforts helped the visitors bundle the hosts out for 287 after putting them to bat first. De Kock - who has loved batting against Indians in the limited-overs format - equalled legendary Protea batter AB de Villiers to slam his sixth ODI ton against India.
Despite losing the top-order early, South Africa's middle-order once again rose to the occasion and brought the Proteas in a dominant position. Continuing the trend of putting up century-plus stands in the middle-overs, the in-form batting duo of De Kock and Rassie van der Dussen stitched a 144-run stand for the 4th wicket and pushed the visitors on the back foot.
Their partnership once again highlighted India's inability to pick up wickets in the middle-overs but the bowlers came back strongly in the death overs to prevent the hosts from finishing on a high. Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna - playing his first game of the series - prevented hosts from freeing up their arms and bundled the Proteas out for 287.
Team India made four changes in the playing XI in the inconsequential tie by including Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Suryakumar Yadav and Jayant Yadav.
KL Rahul's decision to replace Bhuvneshwar Kumar with Deepak Chahar made an immediate impact as the right-arm pacer gave South Africa an early breakthrough and returned with figures of 2/53.
Chahar had opener Janneman Malan (1) caught behind with just eight runs on the board at the start of the third over and dismissed Aiden Markram (15) in his seventh over of his first spell. Going into the next series against West Indies at home, the team management would be looking to give Chahar a longer rope.