RAJKOT, India, Oct 18, (AFP): Quinton de Kock hit 103 and Morne Morkel claimed four for 39 as South Africa brushed aside India by 18 runs in the third oneday international in Rajkot on Sunday. De Kock, the 22-year-old lefthanded opener, took advantage of a flat pitch to notch up his seventh oneday century — the fourth against India — that lifted the Proteas to 270-7. India were restricted to 252-6 in reply, despite half-centuries from Rohit Sharma (65) and Virat Kohli, who returned to form with 77, his first substantial knock after 12 barren one-dayers. The win handed the tourists a 2-1 lead in the five-match series with the last two games to be played in Chennai (Oct 22) and Mumbai (Oct 25)
. South Africa had won the opening game in Kanpur by five runs and India drew level at Indore with a 22-run victory. Morkel was supported by spirited fielding by his team-mates in hot and humid weather which tied down the freestroking Indian batsmen. Sharma, who hit 150 in a losing cause in the first match in Kanpur, shared a 72-run stand for the second wicket with Kohli after Shikhar Dhawan had fallen for 13. Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni then put on 80 for the third wicket with Kohli before he was removed by Morkel for 47 with his team still needing 78 off 49 deliveries.
Morkel sealed India’s fate by dismissing Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane off successive deliveries in the 46th over, both batsmen being caught at deep mid-wicket by David Miller. Suresh Raina fell for a second successive zero, holing out in the deep against leg-spinner Imran Tahir. South African captain AB de Villiers lauded his batsmen, especially de Kock, for the team’s victory. “It was a very special batting performance,” he said. “Quinton answered a lot of questions on how valuable he is to the side. “We were looking at 250 to be a par score, but we managed more than that. And the way we fought back with the ball was special.” Dhoni said the target of 270 was gettable even on a pitch that became twopaced as the match went on. “South Africa batted when the wicket was at its best,” he said. “When our turn came, the wicket kept getting lower and slower and it became difficult to play the big shots. “Also there was not much dew in the evening, which made it easier for the South African bowlers. There are still two more games to go and we will look to bounce back.”
Earlier, Faf du Plessis (60) shared a third-wicket stand of 118 with de Kock to lift the tourists to 205-2 in the 39th over when India hit back with three quick wickets to make it 210-5 in the 41st. Du Plessis, who was caught off a Mohit Sharma no-ball when on 16, was dismissed by the same bowler to a catch at third-man, triggering the slide. De Kock was run out in the 40th over after a misunderstanding with de Villiers, who was himself given leg-before in leftarm spinner Axar Patel’s next over. Farhaan Behardien smashed a last-ball six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar to return unbeaten on 33. The one-day series will be followed by four Test matches