The Proteas might’ve had Fantastic Faf in their armoury but that wasn’t enough ammunition to stop the King of the Chase.
As far as the battle of captains went, the first ODI between the Proteas and India at Kingsmead in Durban on Thursday night certainly delivered.
The only difference was the visiting leader at least had support.
Virat Kohli once again reminded all why he is the top ranked batsman in the 50-over format with a masterful 112 as he spearheaded India’s win by six wickets after they were tasked with chasing 270.
His 33rd hundred was special for the fact that it featured everything that makes the 29-year-old so irrepressible.
Kohli built his innings in customary fashion.
He was cautious at the start, started driving beautifully once he settled down and then cut loose.
Kagiso Rabada was the only bowler to give him some minor discomfort but that fight was also settled later on when Kohli disdainfully cracked South Africa’s ace quick over extra cover.
There was no feet, just wrist and skill.
But all the plaudits – Kohli will admit it himself – shouldn’t go to him.
Ajinkya Rahane showed his pedigree with a composed 79 off just 86 deliveries.
He took a particular liking to Chris Morris, who was all over the place.
Together, him and Kohli added a record 189 for the third wicket against South Africa.
What the duo exposed was not only the Proteas’ faulty selection -there were too many seamers – but also their mental state.
In the build-up to the match, home captain Faf du Plessis admitted that the hosts might not quite be at their peak after a “mentally draining” Test series.
He wouldn’t have taken much satisfaction from being proved correct.
South Africa’s attack lacked inspiration on a slow pitch.
Even Imran Tahir, who had the example of the Indian spinners flourishing, didn’t adapt by bowling slower.
The bowling effort overshadowed Du Plessis’ great innings.
His 120 off 112 balls was a remarkable effort, expertly crafted as the rest of the top order failed around him.
He received good support in the lower order by Morris (37) and Andile Phehlukwayo (27*) but by then the wiles of the spinners Kuldeep Yadav (3/34) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/45) had done the damage.