Chennai, Oct 22 (IANS) Virat Kohli produced a superb century to power India to a total of 299/8 in 50 overs in the fourth and penultimate One-Day International (ODI) at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Thursday.
Coming in at the fall of Rohit Sharma, Kohli was a part of a couple of crucial 100-plus partnerships with Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina.
It was the 23rd ODI century for Kohli who reached three figures with a six over long on off young pacer Aaron Phansigo.
Apart from Kohli, Raina and Rahane were also in good knick. Raina, who has not been at his best so far in this series, finally brought his poor run to an end. He scored 53 runs off 52 deliveries with three boundaries and a six.
Rahane, who was caught behind off Dale Steyn while on 45, was unlucky to miss out on what would have been a well deserved half-century.
The South African fast bowlers continued their fine show with rookie pacer Kasigo Rabada and Steyn picking up three wickets each.
Rabada was impressive with his pace and movement to return figures of 3-54 while Steyn lapped up the Indian middle-order for 3-61. Pacer Chris Morris (1-55) also clinched a wicket.
Electing to bat on winning the toss, India were off to a flying start as Rohit Sharma came up with a flurry of early boundaries. But the Mumbai batsman took one risk too many as he flicked Chris Morris uppishly off his pads only to see Faf du Plesis dive to his right for a low catch.
Shikhar Dhawan did not look too comfortable during his 15-ball stay in the middle before he connected a short ball on the leg stump by Rabada and Quinton de Kock pulled off a nice catch behind the stumps.
That saw Rahane walk to the middle and the right-hander proceeded to put together a 104-run stand with Kohli to put the Indian innings back on track.
Steyn put an end to the partnership by getting rid of Rahane with the first ball of his second spell. Rahane misjudged the bounce of an incoming delivery to offer an inside edge to de Kock.
Raina and Kohli kept the scoreboard ticking with some excellent running between the wickets and the occasional boundary.
Raina, who was lucky to get a let off while on 48, pushed Imran Tahir to long on to complete his half-century later in the over. But he did not survive long as Steyn got him in the very next over with another short delivery.
Kohli was on fire at the other end. Once the Delhi right-hander had reached his century, he started to go after the bowling before he tried to pull Rabada but only managed to offer an easy edge to de Kock.
Rabada claimed the wicket of Harbhajan Singh with the very next ball and Dhoni smashed Steyn into the hands of AB de Villiers at long off as the Proteas managed to prevent the hosts from producing a strong finish.