Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav shared eight wickets between them at Super Sports Park, taking their total for the series to 13, as South Africa's biggest weakness was brutally exposed once again. In the absence of the injured Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers, the hosts folded for their lowest ODI total at home, and their eighth lowest overall.
Virat Kohli chose to put South Africa in because he expected some early movement with two new balls; the hosts were happy to bowl second, anticipating the turn in the afternoon. But they did not have to wait that long to see what spinners could do on a surface that will doubtless come under the spotlight again, for failing to play the home team's advantage.
South Africa had a quiet start as Hashim Amla tried to anchor one end while Quinton de Kock was in the wars at the other. The first ball de Kock faced, bowled by Jasprit Bumrah, dribbled onto his stumps off a block but the bails were not dislodged. The second was a bouncer, in the vicinity of his throat, and the third struck him on the left hand.
Sensing an opportunity to burrow into South Africa, Kohli brought on Kuldeep in the next over. His first ball was a half-tracker that Markram smacked in the air to deep midwicket where Bhuvneshwar was waiting. His fifth was tossed up, inviting the drive from David Miller, who came forward as the ball dipped in and edged to slip.
Imran Tahir was bowled by Bumrah and Morris holed out to deep cover to give Chahal his maiden ODI five-for, the best figures by an Indian bowler against South Africa in South Africa, and the second-best by an Indian against South Africa ever. To add insult to injury, India knocked off all but 21 runs of the target by the time of the scheduled lunch break, and the play was extended by 15 minutes to allow the result to be achieved. But because it wasn't, the players left the field for lunch with India needing two runs to win from 31 overs.
That farce aside, India did not face too many issues in the field. When play resumed, they quickly got the winning runs with a bit of a mis-hit behind square. Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli took India there, with a second-wicket stand of 93 runs, with Dhawan providing the match's only half-century. South Africa only had one moment of success.They did not even have enough runs to assess whether their decision to field two specialist spinners would have paid off, but the 18 runs Tabraiz Shamsi conceded in three overs suggests India were more than ready for the challenge. At last a great win for Team India and let us hope they continue this forward.