After the bowlers had restricted South Africa to 227/9, Rohit Sharma hit his 23rd ODI century as India won by six wickets in tough conditions to launch their ICC World Cup 2019 on a high
Southampton: Bowlers and Rohit Sharma (122 not out) combined well to launch India’s ICC World Cup 2019 on a winning note against South Africa on Wednesday (June 5) at The Hampshire Bowl in Southampton.
In tough batting conditions, India first kept the opposition to 227/9 and then Rohit curbed his natural game to register his 23rd ODI century as India won by six wickets, reaching the target in the 48th over.
While Virat Kohli and Co began on a high it has been a poor tournament so far for South Africa as they slumped to their third straight loss.
"There was something in it for the bowlers throughout the game, and I couldn't play my natural game. I wanted to leave a lot of balls initially, I was trying to stick to the basics and build partnerships even though it was a small total. I had fun, it wasn't a typical Rohit Sharma innings, I had to play out the overs to ensure I got the job done," said Rohit after the win.
Captain Kohli said, "If you look at how the game went and the pitch behaved, it was challenging. Hats off to Rohit, it was a very professional win. We were going to bowl first had we won the toss, with the new ball conditions were going to be difficult, and we knew they were coming off two losses. Jasprit is operating at a different level, batsmen are always feeling pressure. Chahal too was outstanding."
It was an uncharacteristic hundred for the Indian vice-captain (122 not out off 144 balls) in a successful chase of 228 in conditions that were not exactly conducive for free-flowing strokeplay.
It might have taken India 47.3 overs to complete the chase but not for once were they in any sort of trouble.
It did help that a bowling attack with a lone ranger in Kagiso Rabada (10-1-39-2) couldn't have defended a 227-run total but nobody can take away the fact that conditions remained overcast throughout with the extra bounce causing discomfort for most of the established batsmen.
For South Africa, everything went wrong from the start as skipper Faf du Plessis first surprised everyone by deciding to bat first and then dropped Rohit in the slips when he had barely got off the mark.
Once Du Plessis dropped Rohit, he played a ramp shot to add salt to the wound. In all, he hit 13 fours and two sixes. The Indian opener was given a second life towards the end of the chase with David Miller dropping a regulation catch.
The bowler on both occasions was Rabada, whom the Indians played cautiously while attacking the others. With no Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi, it would have been difficult for a second string attack to contain the Indian batsmen.
The weak link was the two spinners, Shamsi (0/54 in 10 overs) and Imran Tahir (0/58 in 10 overs), who were attacked by the Indian batsmen.
With the scoreboard pressure not being there, Rohit and KL Rahul shared an 85-run partnership and later Rohit and Dhoni, who added 74, could afford to wait for the loose balls.
Earlier, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal grabbed four wickets, helping India restrict South Africa to a sub-par 227/ 9. Du Plessis' decision to bat under overcast conditions backfired with Jasprit Bumrah (10-1-35-2) setting the tone with twin blows in his opening spell.
Chahal (10-0-51-4) then tightened the noose on South African batsmen as they could never really force the pace during the middle overs. Incidentally, this was the best 10-over single spell (in terms of wickets taken) by any bowler in a World Cup game.
South Africa's total got some semblance of respectability courtesy Chris Morris (42 off 34) and Kagiso Rabada (31 not out off 35), who shared a much needed 66-run stand for the eighth wicket.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (10-0-44-2) coming in place of Mohammed Shami was impressive in his second spell.
Under a thick cloud cover and a pitch that offered bounce, Bumrah was unplayable in his initial five over spell where he pitched on good length or back of it, getting the deliveries to rear up awkwardly and shape away from openers Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla.
Bumrah dismissed Amla (6) with a beautiful delivery that rose from length outside the off-stump and the outside edge was taken low in the slips by Rohit.
De Kock (10) was out in his next over when his back of length delivery was angled across and the left-hander's slash was pouched by skipper Virat Kohli at the third slip.
Skipper du Plessis (38 off 54 balls) and Rassie van der Dussen (22 off 37 balls) did add 44 runs for the third wicket but it was more of a consolidation job as they found scoring runs difficult.
The Powerplay yielded only 34 runs and even though the Proteas skipper hit four boundaries, he never looked comfortable.
Third seamer Hardik Pandya (6-0-31-0) also hit the hard lengths and one of his deliveries, a nasty snorter, hit Du Plessis flush on the gloves, leaving him in pain. Along with Kedar Jadhav (4-0-16-0), they shared the fifth bowler's duties admirably giving away only 45 runs.
Once Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav (10-0-46-1) started operating in tandem, something was waiting to happen.
Van der Dussen, who was showing composure till then, suddenly had a brain fade as the right-hander tried an ambitious reverse sweep to a delivery drifting on his pads only to be bowled.
From 78/2, it soon became 80 for 4 as du Plessis failed to read a Chahal googly and was bowled through the gate.
Kuldeep then had a horribly out-of-form JP Duminy (3 off 11) plumb in-front with scoreboard reading 89 for 5. David Miller (31 off 40 balls) and Andile Phehlukwayo (34 off 61 balls) again had to carry out a repair job adding 46 runs but Chahal collected another two wickets quickly to reduce them to 158 for 7.
(With inputs from PTI)
Last Updated 11:56 PM IST