India 326 for 5 (Kohli 101*, Iyer 77, Maharaj 1-30) beat South Africa 83 (Jansen 14, Jadeja 5-33, Kuldeep 2-7) by 243 runs
Most of Kohli’s centuries in recent times have had an air of inevitability about them. Sunday’s innings was anything but. The conditions in Kolkata were challenging and even Kohli had struggled to get the old ball away. South Africa’s left-arm spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi also challenged Kohli with drift, dip and turn.
In his very first over, Maharaj had knocked Shubman Gill (23) over with a ripper that beat his outside edge to trim the off bail. When Maharaj bowled a similar delivery to Kohli, the ball missed the outside edge. Having run away to a fast start – he was on 17 off 13 balls at one point – Kohli slowed down against spin, but he navigated that passage of play to pick the seamers away. When Lungi Ngidi was brought back into the attack in the 35th over, Kohli jumped out of his crease and shovelled him away for four.
It was Rohit who had laid the foundation for the 134-run third-wicket partnership between Kohli and Iyer. The India captain dashed out of the blocks in the powerplay, cracking 40 off 24 balls. He dismantled Marco Jansen, the most prolific bowler in the powerplay in this tournament, and Ngidi, South Africa’s enforcer in the absence of Gerald Coetzee.
Jansen ended up conceding 94 in 9.4 overs for just one wicket. As for Ngidi, he left the field two balls into the final over of India’s innings with an injury scare.
South Africa’s troubles then seeped into their batting. Quinton de Kock chopped Mohammed Siraj on in the second over while Temba Bavuma was bowled by Jadeja, who got the new ball to rag away past the outside edge.
Things were only going to get tougher against the older, softer ball. Jadeja and Mohammed Shami overpowered South Africa’s middle order. Jadeja removed Henrich Klaasen and David Miller while Shami bested Aiden Markram with Test-match line and length. After bringing a pair of deliveries back into Markram from over the wicket, Shami had one to leave the batter and kiss the outside edge.