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NEW DELHI: Virat Kohli might have been the one who received plaudits for his superb century in India’s win against South Africa in the first ODI on Thursday but former captain Sourav Ganguly feels that Ajinkya Rahane’s contribution was as valuable as the captain’s.
Thanks to Kohli’s 112, India registered a comprehensive victory against South Africa in Durban as they chased down 270 with over fours overs to spare and six wickets remaining. However, the foundation of the facile win was laid after Kohli was joined by Rahane for a record 189-run stand for the third wicket. India lost their openers with 67 on board after South Africa posted 269/8 with captain Faf du Plessis scoring 120.
Kohli and Rahane then joined forces to steer the innings. Rahane, who was excluded from the first two games of the three-Test series that preceded the ODIs, struck a half-century studded with five fours and two sixes. He was out after scoring 79 off 86 with India just 14 runs away from sealing the victory.
Du Plessis ruled out of India ODIs, T20Is
In his column for TOI, Ganguly wrote that both the knock held equal importance for him but Rahane still needs to learn the art of converting 50s into 100s from his skipper.
“I am extremely happy to see the way Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar stamped their authority once again. They are invaluable to this team,” he wrote. “Rahane’s performance was not a surprise because he is a class act. Along with his quality as a batsman, what he needs to learn from his skipper is how to get a hundred. Maybe a dinner together will help! His knock of 79 in the first ODI was as good as Virat’s but the difference is that Virat very rarely misses out on a ton once he is set.”
Ganguly heaped praise on Indian team’s heroic performance in the third and final Test at Wanderers that saw them ending the series on a high when they beat the hosts by 63 runs on the fourth day. He wrote that the win will have a far reaching effect which was already on display in the first ODI that India dominated. “The last 10 days in South Africa have been brilliant for the Indians, led by an exceptional Virat Kohli. It just goes to show, as it has in the past, that the Indian team gets better after spending some time in overseas conditions,” he wrote.
“I am not surprised to see the performance of Kohli and his boys. The victory at Wanderers will be etched in the minds of the Kohli brigade. The value of this sort of win is not measured as just another win — its effect is far reaching and we saw that in the ODI in Durban where India dominated.”
He also backed the decision to continue the third Test despite the uneven bounce raising concerns over the safety of players. “The match referee had to take a call on whether the Test should continue on Day 4 at the Wanderers and fortunately they took the right call otherwise it would have been grossly unfair to India, who showed unbelievable guts. I must also mention Dean Elgar — he will remember that innings for a lifetime and it will be one of his best, despite all the runs he may get in the future,” Ganguly wrote.
He feels India have the edge over the depleted South Africa team which will be without the services of their talisman AB de Villiers for at least the second and third ODI. Dale Steyn has already been ruled out of the entire series after getting injured during the first Test itself. To make matters worse, SA will also be without Du Plessis who has been ruled out of the rest of the series due to a finger injury.
“There is still a lot of cricket to be played but I have a feeling that India have delivered the first psychological blow to South Africa over the last two matches. South Africa, without [AB] De Villiers and [Dale] Steyn, have a big hole in their side,” he observed.
“Also, to leave out [Lungi] Ngidi and [Vernon] Philander was not the right decision. It will be hard to stop India if [Andile] Phehlukwayo is brought in and he and [Imran] Tahir are the fourth and fifth bowlers in this series.”
With their first ever win over South Africa in a limited-overs game in Durban, India have taken a 1-0 lead in the six-match series. The second ODI will be played at Centurion on Sunday.