Faf du Plessis also plays captain's knock in Durban as hosts set 270-run target, which proves not enough, in first of six one-dayers
Virat Kohli hits 'special' ODI hundred as India clinch series opener against South Africa
Captain Virat Kohli struck a stylish century to lead India to a comfortable six-wicket victory over South Africa in the first one-day international on Thursday and end the hosts' 17-match winning streak on home soil.
India amassed 270-4 to reach their target with 27 balls to spare at Kingsmead after South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, who won the toss, scored 120 of his side’s 269-8.
A record 189-run third-wicket partnership between Kohli, who made 112, and Ajinkya Rahane (79) set up India's victory at the start of the six-match series.
Kohli reached his 33rd ODI ton off 105 balls while Rahane’s flamboyant knock came off 86 balls.
Their partnership was the highest for the third wicket in an ODI at the Durban venue, beating a two decade-old mark held by Pakistan, and ensured India eased to victory with wickets and overs to spare.
Du Plessis carried his side as his team mates were strangled by India’s wrist spinners, slumping to 134-5 with Kuldeep Yadav the pick of the bunch as he finished with figures of 3-34 in an economical 10-over spell.
Together with Chris Morris (37), Du Plessis piled on late runs to take South Africa to a better than expected total, and hand a sell-out crowd hope but still significantly short of a defendable target.
India have won eight of their previous nine ODIs chasing down a target and Kohli felt his side always in with a chance of doing so again.
“It was a special knock for me because the first game of a series is always important. When we restricted South Africa we knew we needed one partnership to effectively take us home,” Kohli said at the presentation ceremony.
The second game of the series is at Centurion in Pretoria on Sunday. South Africa top the International Cricket Council’s ODI team rankings with India second.