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Indian bowlers had given India big hopes after bowling out South Africa for 130 in their second innings, setting a target of 208 to win the match. But the visiting batsmen capitulated, with paceman Veron Philander scalping six wickets. All-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin top-scored for India with 37. Captain Virat Kohli was the second-highest scorer with 28 as the hosts took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
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It could very well have been 1-0 in favour of the visitors had their batsmen shone like the bowlers did. Resuming from Saturday's total of 65/2 as the third day's play was completely washed out, the hosts failed to get going and could only manage to add 65 runs before losing the final eight wickets. Former skipper AB de Villiers (35) was the lone batsman offering some kind of resistance even as the Indian pacers led by Mohammed Shami (3/28) and Jasprit Bumrah (3/39) took full advantage of the conditions.
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The tone was set by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/33) and Shami early on before Bumrah came into his own. Wickets kept falling as the Indian seamers continued their dominance on the fourth morning. All-rounder Hardik Pandya (2/27), who grabbed a couple of wickets on the second day, however could not add any more wicket to his kitty. During the Indian chase, local boy Vernon Philander led the Proteas' fightback with the quick dismissals of skipper Virat Kohli (28) and his deputy Rohit Sharma (10) before Kagiso Rabada joined the party with the wickets of Wriddhiman Saha (8) and all-rounder Hardik Pandya (1).
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Philander, who had started the proceedings with the wicket of opener Murali Vijay (13), came back for his second spell to break the brief 32-run fourth wicket stand between Kohli and Sharma. At the beginning, India survived a few early calls before losing the opening duo of Vijay (13) and Shikhar Dhawan (16) after a 30-run stand. Dhawan was the first one to be back in the hut after being caught at gully by substitute fielder Chris Morris off a steeply rising delivery from Morkel.
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Vijay then departed while trying to defend an outswinger from Philander, only to manage an edge for de Villiers to complete the catch at third slip. Morkel then came back to reduce India to 39/3 after No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara (4) nicked an almost unplayable length delivery back to the stumper Quinton de Kock. Kohli looked good during his 40-ball stay in the middle, striking four boundaries before Philander's full ball caught him plumb in line with middle.
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Reduced to 76/5, India once again hoped for another Pandya show, similar to his 93 in the first essay which took the visiting side to 209, but a brilliant catch by de Villiers off Rabada proved fatal for the all-rounder. Just before tea, Saha perished to a lbw decision in favour of Philander, with India at 82/7, still 126 runs behind.
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Thereafter, Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar (13) resisted the South Africans for a while, stitching together a 49-run stand but it was quite evident that they were waging a losing battle. Ashwin edged behind off Philander, with the dismissal marking eighth for 131. The right-arm pacer then sent packing Shami (4) and Bumrah (0) to seal the victory for South Africa.