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Kohli, bowlers steer India to 5-1 series victory in ODI series

Virat Kohli scored at strike-rate of 134.38
Virat Kohli scored at strike-rate of 134.38

India 206-2 (Kohli 129no) beat
South Africa 204 (Thakur 4-52) by eight wickets
Sixth One-Day International in Centurion

Virat Kohli slammed an unbeaten 129-run knock off 96 deliveries after a four-wicket haul from Shardul Thakur as India chased down 205 runs against South Africa with ease in 32.1 overs with eight wickets in hand in the sixth and final One-Day International in Centurion to complete a 5-1 series victory.

South Africa will be relieved to see the series coming to a conclusion as they were outplayed in all facets of the game except for the rain-hit fourth where they showed some resilience that has helped them prevent a whitewash.

This is Kohli's third century in the series and 35th overall and in the process became the first batsman ever to score 500 runs in a bilateral ODI series.

Earlier, India won the toss and decided to bowl first. Shardul Thakur (4-52) troubled the South African top order with the new ball as he claimed both the openers Aiden Markram (24) and Hashim Amla (10).

AB de Villiers (30) and Khaya Zondo (54) anchored the innings with a 62 run stand for the third and with JP Duminy and David Miller rested, the onus was on the duo to lay a solid platform but both became victims of Yuzvendra Chahal (2-38).

Phehlukwayo (34) and Morne Morkel (20) tried to show some lower order resilience but the innings was always losing momentum with the Indian bowlers tidying up things to wrap up the home side for 204 runs in the 47th over.

Thakur picked four wickets and was the standout bowler while Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah (2-24) snared two apiece.

Chasing a modest total of 205 runs, Rohit Sharma (15) started the innings positively with three boundaries in the first two overs before he edged a Lungi Ngidi (2-54) delivery to the keeper.

Kohli (129 not out) looked in fluent touch from the outset as he plundered five boundaries in the first 13 deliveries that he faced but Ngidi managed to have his second wicket with Shikhar Dhawan (18) chipping one to backward point.

South Africa might have sensed an opening after having India down to 80 for two but Kohli looked in dominating form as he raced to a 36-ball fifty and soon became the first batsman to cross 500 runs in bilateral series.

With South Africa hardly showing any fight, Kohli stepped up the gear further and took just 82 deliveries to complete his century. Andile Phehlukwayo (0-27) handed a reprieve to Kohli when he dropped him at sweeper cover off Imran Tahir (0-42) and the response from the Indian captain came through back to back sixes in the 31st over.

It was a matter of time before the winning runs came off Kohli's blade and with Ajinkya Rahane (34 not out) also remaining unbeaten at the other end, the visitors completed the chase in 32.1 overs with eight wickets in hand.

Kohli was named both the man of the match as well as the series as the action now shifts to three-match Twenty20 International series between the two sides.

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