India 307-7 (Dhawan 137) beat
South Africa 177 (du Plessis 55) by 130 runs
World Cup, 13th Match, Pool B, Melbourne
Shikhar Dhawan displayed batting aggression and Ajinkya Rahane played 'silent warrior' as India thumped South Africa at a boisterous Melbourne Cricket Ground by a massive 130 runs.
India won a very good toss and a huge roar greeted MS Dhoni's correct call.
Choosing to bat first, the start was inauspicious as India lost Rohit Sharma (0) in the third over, run out by AB de Villiers.
However, Dhawan (137) and Virat Kohli (46) put on 127 for the third wicket, almost a repeat of their partnership against Pakistan.
With minimal risk, they ran well, scored boundaries at the right time and upped the ante every five overs.
Dhawan was dropped by Hashim Amla at point when he was on 53, a miss that turned out to be expensive.
De Villiers produced two stunning run outs of Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja (2), but South Africa overall, were a little sloppy in the outfield.
Both Dhawan and Kohli switched gears from 50 in 13.1 overs as Dhawan fluently cut and drove all the South African bowlers.
With a couple of scintillating pulls, ramp shots and upper cuts, Dhawan made sure India were on target for the par score of 280 on this track.
Kohli was the first to leave, as he hit a short ball from Imran Tahir (1-48) straight to Faf du Plessis at short mid-wicket.
But Ajinkya Rahane (79), who came at number four to maintain the left-right combination, was as fluent as honey, playing terrific shots including a front-foot six off Wayne Parnell (1-85) and a six straight down the ground of Dale Steyn (1-55).
Dhawan and Rahane put on 125 runs in just 99 balls.
Dhawan brought up his seventh One-Day International hundred while Rahane was threatening to take the game away from South Africa with a 60-ball 79.
After the dismissals of Dhawan and Rahane, India lost their way a little bit in the search for big shots, almost reminiscent of their previous match against Pakistan.
While they scored 80 in their last 10 overs, they garnered only 41 in their last six, Dhoni (18), Suresh Raina (6) and Jadeja (2), all falling cheaply.
For South Africa, the risk of playing five bowlers didn’t pan out well as their fifth bowler Wayne Parnell (1-85) leaked runs from start to finish.
However, de Villiers, their skipper, was unlucky in losing Vernon Philander (0-19) after four overs to a hamstring injury.
While the front-liners, Steyn and Morne Morkel (2-59), couldn’t stem the flow of runs, it was Tahir (1-48), who was the pick of the bowlers, stifling runs from one end even in the middle overs as India scored 307 for seven in the 50 overs.
South Africa were extremely cautious at the start of their chase. That didn’t help as the pressure led to Quinton de Kock’s (7) mistimed hit to mid-off.
Amla (22) hooked a Mohit Sharma (2-31) bouncer and the catch was judged to perfection by Mohammad Shami at deep fine leg.
After a quick and crucial 68-run partnership between Faf du Plessis (55) and de Villiers (30), it was a run out thanks to an accurate and powerful throw from sweeper cover by Mohit that led to AB’s dismissal.
The South African skipper’s departure caused a drop in their momentum and it helped India put more pressure as Jadeja (1-37) and Ravichandran Ashwin (3-41) squeezed the South African middle order.
Once du Plessis, the other set batsman, came down the track and mistimed a slap shot straight to Dhawan at mid off, the writing was on the wall.
David Miller (22), hero against Zimbabwe was also run out, thanks to good fielding and a good throw from another pacer, Umesh Yadav (0-34), who even clocked 147kph with the ball, just short of Dale Steyn’s 147.3kph.
JP Duminy (6) got out to a badly selected reverse sweep as South Africa limped to 177, bundled out in just 40.2 overs registering their worst defeat in a World Cup game.
This is also India’s first win over South Africa in the four outings so far in World Cups.
In the end, India not only batted well, their known strength, but also out-fielded and out-bowled expected title challengers South Africa.
© Cricket World 2015