Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma tons set up comfortable win for South Africa
India slide after Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli fifties to end up 32 short of 297 target
South Africa 296 for 4 (van der Dussen 129*, Bavuma 110, Bumrah 2-48) beat India 265 for 8 (Dhawan 79, Kohli 51, Thakur 50*, Ngidi 2-64, Shamsi 2-52, Phehlukwayo 2-26) by 31 runs
A sparkling century from Rassie van der Dussen was complemented by a well-paced one from Temba Bavuma, as South Africa cantered to a 31-run win over India in the first ODI of a three-match series.
van der Dussen joined Bavuma when South Africa were 68 for 3 in the 18th over, but they shrugged off that rickety start to eventually drive the team 296 for 4 on a slow Boland Park pitch. India were on track in the first half of their chase, particularly when Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan were batting together in a 92-run stand for the second wicket, but the innings withered after they both fell.
Bavuma and van der Dussen had put on 204 runs in just 183 balls, conquering bowlers and conditions. In particular, van der Dussen's knock took the first innings, and it turned out the match, away from India. In the end, he remained unconquered on an ODI best 129 off just 96 balls. His innings included four hits over the fence and nine to it, with more than half his runs coming via running between the wickets - this on a day when the heat was sapping. In the final over of South Africa's innings, van der Dussen was often down on his haunches to gather his breath. It was his batting that left those watching breathless though.
He got off the blocks quickly, injecting much-needed momentum into the innings, using sweeps and reverse sweeps to devastating effect against the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin. The feature of van der Dussen's innings was how he took the pitch out of the equation. Till his arrival, scoring had been laborious. But his use of the square boundaries, and ability to capitalise on the slightest errors in length, meant the innings found a new gear.
Bavuma had a head start on his innings and got to his century first, with a single off Shardul Thakur in the 45th over. At the start of the 48th over, van der Dussen got to his own hundred with a flick to fine leg.
The heat in Paarl saw the Indian bowling also wilt after a good start, as van der Dussen continued to go full throttle. Bavuma, who was on 23 off 45 when van der Dussen joined him and later on 28 off 53, gradually picked up his pace too. He made 82 from the last 90 balls he faced, playing an able foil to van der Dussen. By the time he had holed out to become Jasprit Bumrah's second wicket, he had made 110 off 143.
India's bowling had begun well. Bumrah got Janneman Malan nicking behind, and the returning Ashwin - playing his first ODI since 2017 - castled Quinton de Kock with a quicker one. When Aiden Markram ran himself out via a direct hit from debutant Venkatesh Iyer at mid-off, India seemed well in control.
However, the van der Dussen and Bavuma rebuilding plus counterattack left India looking a bit ragged. There were several mis-fields and overthrows too, which eased any pressure that was built up.
KL Rahul, captaining India for the first time, didn't have an outing to remember. He never went to his sixth bowling option Venkatesh, and had used up eight overs each of Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar by the time the innings was 40 overs old. Eventually, 86 runs came off the final ten overs, including a 17-run final over by Shardul Thakur.
When Rahul came out to open the innings, he treated Markram's part-time offspin with exaggerated caution. Markram bowled six overs on the trot after taking the new ball. Rahul had opted to play him out safely rather than attack, but that approach didn't pay dividends either when he poked Markram behind to de Kock.
That led to India's best phase in the chase, with Dhawan scoring freely and Kohli building busily. During that period, the target looked within reach, with both men looking in control. However, a sharply turning ball from Keshav Maharaj spun into the Dhawan, past the inside half of his bat and onto his stumps as he was shaping to cut, and Kohli top-edged Tabraiz Shamsi to midwicket three overs later. From 138 for 1 in the 26th over, India's slide was steady. Thakur, coming in at No. 8, belted a maiden ODI fifty and was unbeaten on 50 off 43 balls, but his hits only served to lessen the margin of defeat.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo