South Africa batsmen continued to dominate India's bowlers with captain Temba Bavuma leading the way in an easy 31-run win in the first ODI in Paarl on Wednesday.
Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen scored centuries and shared a partnership of 204 as the hosts continued their great form with the bat against India bowlers, having secured seven-wicket wins in their previous two Tests chasing 200-plus scores in the last innings.
The home side elected to bat and posted 296-4 in their 50 overs, with Bavuma’s 110 from 143 balls anchoring the innings and an unbeaten 129 not out off 96 from Van der Dussen, who scored his maiden ODI ton, providing the impetus.
India captain KL Rahul, who had taken over from Virat Kohli, made the curious decision of not using his sixth bowler Venkatesh Iyer even as his regular bowlers struggled to break the partnership. That, and the ineffectiveness of India's spinners allowed the Proteas to score freely on a low and slow pitch.
In the chase, India started well as opener Shikhar Dhawan scored 79 from 84 balls and former captain Virat Kohli 51 from 63. However, when they were dismissed the visitors struggled to keep up with the required run-rate and finished on 265-8. Shardul Thakur provided resistance with an unbeaten 50 from 43 balls, but he only managed to reduce the margin of defeat.
Andile Phehlukwayo (2-26) was the pick of the home attack and claimed the key wicket of Rishabh Pant (16), but Tabraiz Shamsi (2-52) and Lungi Ngidi (2-64) also played their part.
“It was a nice game actually. There was so much to learn,” new India captain Rahul said. “We started off well but couldn’t get wickets in the middle.
“And then when we batted, our middle order couldn’t get going. I thought we would chase it down quite easily but the South Africans came back well.”
Bavuma took his time to revive the innings after they were in trouble at 68-3 in the 18th over. The captain and Van der Dussen were particularly impressive against India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal, who picked up just one wicket between them. Once again, Jasprit Bumrah (2-48) was the pick of the tourists’ attack.
“We played close to the perfect game. We can take a lot of confidence from what we did out there,” Bavuma said. “The partnership [with Van der Dussen] was probably the decider.”
The second match in the series will be played at the same venue on Friday, with the third and final one in Cape Town on Sunday. The results do not count towards the Cricket World Cup Super League.