It was Match No. 13 of the ICC #CWC15 between India and South Africa today at the MCG and the defending champions showed that no-one can rule them out so easily! On the back of Shikhar Dhawan’s majestic innings of 137, India posted a massive total of 307. However, South Africa took a slew of wickets in the end overs gaining a bit of momentum.
Dhawan played with a dash of bravado to flay the famed South African pace attack to all corners of the ground. When South Africa bowled short, he used the pull shot to great effect. He also showcased good footwork by getting his front foot more to the pitch of the ball to play cover-drives with a royal flourish. In fact, the way he shuffled across to flick a delivery from Morne Morkel over fine-leg for a six, gave a clear indication that he had no time for playing the ball on the merits of reputation of the bowler.
Ajinkya Rahane, who too essayed a stirring knock, matched Dhawan stroke-for-stroke by playing an innings full of poise and balance. He took a heavy toll off JP Duminy’s bowling before smashing the rest of Proteas’ attack to shreds. In the 39th over of the innings, he lofted Morkel down the ground for a boundary before slapping him through the cover-region for yet another four! To make it even better, he hoisted Dale Steyn over mid-off for a six in the 46th over. Rahane has also been known for playing horizontal-bat shots and with the South African bowlers testing the middle of the pitch, he used that stroke to good effect.
Earlier, after India won the toss and elected to bat, the South African pacers started on a good note. Steyn got a good shape away from Rohit Sharma (first over of the match was a Maiden). AB de Villiers, then effected a brilliant direct-hit to run out Rohit. Steyn and Morkel also flicked their wrist to get a few deliveries to climb awkwardly on Dhawan. But, Virat Kohli played with composure and Dhawan opened up his shoulders to hit a flurry of boundaries, as India slowly but steadily picked themselves up and turned the screws on South Africa’s bowling.
Hashim Amla dropping a catch at backward point to give Dhawan a reprieve, certainly didn’t help their cause. On a flat wicket, barring Imran Tahir, none of the South African bowlers were able to stem the run flow. To make it worse for the Proteas, Vernon Philander was troubled by a hamstring problem and could only bowl four overs.
The Indian bowlers too put up an inspired show. Mohammed Shami bowled with purpose upfront and snared the wicket of opener, Quinton de Kock. In fact, when Shami bowled, the seam was proud and upright and that helped him to generate swing. Mohit Sharma also gave a good account of himself. He surprised Hashim Amla with a short delivery and snared his wicket.
To make it even better for India, the spin twins, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, bowled well in tandem. The only batsman, who perhaps could have turned out to be the game-breaker for South Africa was their captain, AB de Villiers. However, he was run out on the back of a superb piece of fielding by Mohit.
Mohit followed it up by taking the crucial wicket of Faf du Plessis. Once Faf du Plessis was dismissed, there was an air of inevitability to the result. It has to be said that MS Dhoni marshalled his resources wonderfully well to cajole a strong showing from his team.
By winning the first two matches of the mega-event, India will be high on confidence when they take on UAE in their next match at Perth. On the other hand, South Africa need to show the self-belief to put this defeat behind them when they take on the West Indies in Sydney.
It was a weird thing that two of the hardest hitters in world cricket were run out. ( David Miller and AB de Villiers )
Shikhar dhawan was adjudged man of the match for his scintillating knock that built the foundation of victory for India.
India 307 for 7 in 50 overs
South Africa 177 for 10 in 40.2 overs