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Quinton de Kock scores third consecutive ton as India let South Africa off the hook; Ishant Sharma returns with 4-wicket haul

Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 7:36am IST | Place: Centurion | Agency: DNA
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For the first time in the series, India turned up. Nay, they played like world champions. Alas, their brilliance was spread over a grand total of 7.4 overs. At 28/3, South Africa were vulnerable. But the visitors let them off the hook, only to find themselves staring at another 300-plus target.

Call it providence or just doff your hats to the groundsmen for readying the SuperSport Park in time for the third and final ODI. After Tuesday’s slow but persistent rain, a washout was very much on the cards. But the sun showed up and shooed the clouds away. And after flaying India in Johannesburg and Durban, it was Quinton de Kock who made merry once again, cracking a third consecutive century.

That he was dropped on 37 and 43 is just academic now. Only 20, this chap is surely gunning for the history books.

Little de Kock scored most of his runs in the company of his skipper, AB de Villiers, who conjured up his 16th hundred in ODI cricket. Together, they added 171 runs for the fourth wicket, after which David Miller’s lovely cameo (56 not out off 34 balls) propelled the hosts to 301/8.

On Wednesday, India had a great chance to garner some momentum ahead of the Test series. Yes, the series was already lost but a 2-1 scoreline looks way better than 3-0. And they seemed desperate to win this one. There was help too: the pitch was more Indian than South African, and the hosts rested Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis. Why, even ‘Lady Luck’ was smiling on them. But it all came to nought.

Mohammed Shami had Hashim Amla caught off a full-toss. A couple of inches higher and that delivery would have been adjudged a beamer. New man Henry Davids looked completely out of place and he lasted just six balls. South Africa promoted JP Duminy, more of a finisher than grafter, to No. 4 and he became Ishant Sharma’s second victim of the over.

Sanity prevailed when captain de Villiers walked out to join de Kock in the middle. And there was no looking back. After bowling a better length and forcing the batsmen to play and miss in the first half hour of play, India’s bowlers repeated the mistakes that cost them dear in the games gone by. Or let’s say de Kock and de Villiers induced the errors.

Wicketkeeper de Kock was slow to begin with, but a dance down the wicket to Umesh Yadav and the boundary the move fetched got him going. Ajinkya Rahane and Yuvraj Singh gave him a lifeline each in the space of three overs and de Kock accepted them with glee. He and de Villiers were happy to take the ones and twos, and it was only later that they changed gears.

South Africa took the Powerplay in the 36th over and de Villiers was a different batsman thereon. He clobbered two back-to-back sixes off Shami. Two deliveries earlier, de Kock brought up his ton with a single. In the next over, he became Sharma’s third victim.

De Villiers, now joined by Miller, raced through the nineties with a six off R Ashwin, the bowler stopping in his delivery stride for no reason. Minutes later, he got to three figures, off the 96th ball, with a single, and then cut loose before falling for 109 with six fours and five sixes.

Miller went on with his job, much like he does for Kings XI Punjab in the India Premier League, as South Africa plundered 88 in the last 10 overs and 44 in the last five. Clearly, death bowling is still hurting the Indians.

Three cheers
Here’s a list of batsmen who have scored three consecutive ODI tons...

Zaheer Abbas (Pak) 118 in Multan, 105 in Lahore, 113 in Karachi, all vs India, 1982-83

Saeed Anwar (Pak) 107 vs Sri Lanka, 131 vs West Indies, 111 vs Sri Lanka, all in Sharjah, 1993-94

Herschelle Gibbs (SA) 116 vs Kenya, 116* vs India, (both in Colombo), 153 vs Bangladesh in Potchefstroom, 2002-03

AB de Villiers (SA) 114* in Gwalior, 102* in Ahmedabad, both vs India, 102 vs West Indies in Antigua, 2010

Quinton de Kock (SA) 106 in Johannesburg, 135 in Durban, 101 in Centurion, all vs India, 2013-14

Ishant enters the 100-wicket club
Ishant Sharma on Wednesday became the 16th Indian bowler to enter the 100-wicket club. With 100 wickets in 70 matches, the lanky fast bowler is the fifth fastest Indian to achieve the feat, with Irfan Pathan leading the list with 59 matches. Zaheer Khan is second with 65 games, while Ajit Agarkar (67) and Javagal Srinath (68) are third and fourth on the list respectively.

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