Chayan Rastogi/Vaibhav Arora
Centurion: Yusuf Pathan slammed a memorable counter-attacking century but was not able to steer India to victory as other Indian batsmen looked in hurry to catch flight back home, putting up a disastrous show to lose the decider fifth and final match by 33 runs as South Africa clinched the five-ODI series 3-2 here at Super Sports Park on Sunday.
Batting first, South Africa made 250/9 in their first innings but India faced a revised target of 268 runs to win by D/L method as the match was curtailed to 46-over per side due to rain intervention. But with no support from Indian top-order, India fizzled out to 234 runs in 40.2 overs to lose a historic chance to win their first-ever ODI series on South African soil.
India began their chase in the erratic fashion as no top-order batsmen including skipper MS Dhoni looked to spend time on the crease and threw their wickets. With eight wickets down for just 119 runs, India looked embracing defeat early in the match.
With all chips down and only tail-enders to support, Pathan decided to cut loose and played a gem of an innings, thumping every opposition bowler with his heavy bat.
Pathan (105) tore apart what earlier looked like an intimidating South African bowling attack, as he whacked all bowlers across the park with some lusty blows and brought up his century in 68 balls with seven boundaries and eight towering sixes.
With Zaheer Khan playing a sensible hand on the other end, Pathan infused the excitement in the match and when the Baroda dasher hoisted Lonwabo Tsotsobe for 21 runs in an over, hearts in the South African camp started to sank.
But just when the Indian supporters thought the match is headed their way, calamity struck as Pathan scooped a top-edge to cover region where Du Plessis made no mistake.
With Pathan’s dismissal, India’s defeat was just a formality and with Tsotsobe getting last wicket out, India finished their last ODI series before World Cup which posed some questions on few players’ fitness and few players’ form.
Earlier, Indian opener Rohit Sharma justified why he was not picked in Indian World Cup squad as the batsman failed for the fifth time in five matches and dragged a Tsotsobe delivery on to his stumps.
Pace bowler Morne Morkel then troubled Indian batsmen with his impeccable length and dismissed Indian top-order that included in-form Virat Kohli, Parthiv and Dhoni.
With Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina playing expensive shots and perishing to Dale Steyn, India looked out of contention, leaving Pathan as the lone batsman.
Earlier in first innings, flurry of wickets after mid-inning rain disruption helped India to restrict South Africa to 250/9 in allotted 46 overs.
South African opener Hashim Amla continued his brilliant form with the bat as he smashed a hundred to keep the home team on course for a huge total in the fifth and final game of the ODI series but with rain stopping play for over an hour after 42 overs, South African batsmen fell like a pack of cards after the play resumed and lost the early advantage on D/L method.
Zaheer Khan delivered a fantastic last over, giving away just a single run and affecting three wickets, while Munaf Patel too bowled superbly in the end as South Africa lost six crucial wickets and added just 24 runs in the last four overs.
Earlier, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bowl first in the deciding final one-day international against South Africa.
Zaheer Khan struck early as he removed South African skipper Graeme Smith yet again to reduce the home team to 16/1. Smith was caught by Yusuf Pathan at slip for just 7.
The pair of Amla and Morne van Wyk helped South Africa race past the 100-run mark in the 19th over of the innings. Van Wyk also completed his half-ton as he helped the home team recover from the early blow of Smith’s wicket.
Yuvraj Singh brought India back into the game with two wickets in three overs as the Proteas slumped from a strong 113/1 to a precarious 129/3.
Morne van Wyk (56) became the second South African batsman to depart after he was brilliantly caught by Yuvraj Singh off his own bowling while AB de Villiers was stumped by MS Dhoni off a beautiful delivery that spun and turned away from De Villiers.
Unfazed by wickets falling on the other end, Amla continued to attack all Indian bowlers and raised away to yet another hundred from 113 balls which consisted of 9 hits to the fence.
Rain stopped play with South Africa comfortably placed at 226/3 off 42 overs. At the time of the interruption, Hashim Amla was batting on 111 while Jean-Paul Duminy was not out on 31.
But with rain break causing 4 overs to be deducted from each inning, South African batsmen went with all-attack approach and perished.
Earlier, India decided to give Piyush Chawla a game in place of Ashish Nehra while South Africa went with the same eleven that beat the Indians by 48 runs (D/L) at Port Elizabeth.