AFP
AFP

India had never lost to South Africa in ICC Champions Trophy before this contest. However, India had not tasted victory in the last eight chases against South Africa. Either of the two facts were going to change anyway, and India modified the latter. They registered a clinical 8-wicket win at The Oval, eventually qualifying for the semi-finals. Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli added 128 for the third wicket in the pursuit of a modest 192 runs. Before that, India’s collective bowling performance and sheer brilliance in the field had South Africa in a maze. Live cricket score: India vs South Africa

When Indian openers took crease, the ball hissed as it went past the edge. The track that kept the ball slow and low produced vicious bounce for Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada. Of course, their body frame is heftier compared to that of the diminutive duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.

There were a few play-and-misses, but Rohit Sharma was not one to throw in the towel. He instead waited for the right delivery to exploit, and when that happened, we witnessed one of the finest shots of the tournament. Oozing of vigour, he drove a full delivery down the ground with a straight bat and elbow high as possible. Off the next delivery, he swatted a short delivery over leg-side boundary.

Dhawan joined the carnage in the very next over. He flicked a length ball off Morkel who had dismissed him four times before this contest for a six. However, Rohit spoiled the party and played an uncharacteristic (characteristic for the trollers) stroke. Making room, he tried to heave one over the infield, but instead thin-edged it behind the wickets.

In came Virat Kohli amidst a deafening roar. He opened his account with a flick to deep fine-leg, and thus began an easy chase.

After 10 overs, India collected 37 runs, 2 runs more than what South Africa did but without losing wicket. However, India had a defined roadmap to travel. They needed 155 off 240.

India did not have to strive to amass runs as the ball lost its shine. Dhawan and Kohli batted well in tandem, and dented South Africa’s confidence. In the quest, Dhawan achieved a new high: he became the fastest to score 1,000 runs in ICC ODI tournaments, attaining the feat in 16 matches and transcending Sachin Tendulkar (18), Mark Waugh (20), Sourav Ganguly (20), and Herschelle Gibbs (20).

And as he reached his third consecutive 50-plus score with a loft over long-on, he became the highest run-scorer of the tournament. Kohli, meanwhile, had just another day at work. He bagged his 41st half-century. Although he looked edgy at the start and did not play his trademark cover-drive, he executed a straight six over the boundary with conviction.

South Africa missed a few tricks. They introduced Imran Tahir, No. 2 in ICC ODI Rankings, in the 17th over. By the time he was in action, the Indian duo had churned out 51 runs combined. Dhawan especially counterattacked before the leg-spinner would launch a wrong ‘un on Kohli. He peppered three boundaries and inhibited Tahir’s spell to 2 overs.

Had they brought Tahir early the way India did with Ashwin, India would not have garnered runs the way they did. Let alone that, South Africa tottered in the field. While Hashim Amla dropped Kohli at first-slip, a few of his comrades succumbed to pressure and leaked runs.

Unlike South Africa, India were magnificent with their fielding. They induced three run-outs. First of them was of AB de Villiers. Taking on Hardik Pandya’s arm and Dhoni’s fast hands, de Villiers tried to steal a quick single only to find himself short of crease. In the very next over, David Miller and Faf du Plessis ran towards the same end to create comedy of errors. With du Plessis reaching the crease before Miller, the latter was given out.

Unlike South Africa, Indian pacers bowled well in tandem. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah took 2 wickets each and bowled at an economy of merely over 3. Credit goes to Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as well. They timely sent Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock, who added 75 for the first wicket, back to the pavilion. In fact, had Amla and de Kock not played with caution, the No. 1 ODI team would have been wrapped up much earlier, as South Africa lost the plot and finished at 191 all-out in 44.3 overs.

This was South Africa’s biggest defeat in terms of wickets against India in an ICC tournament. That did not matter to India, though. They are through to the semi-finals and are on course to defend the title.

Brief scores:

South Africa 191 in 44.3 overs (Quinton de Kock 53, Faf du Plessis 36; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2 for 22; Jasprit Bumrah 2 for 28) lost to India 193 for 2 in 37. 5 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 78, Virat Kohli 76*; Morne Morkel 1 for 38) by 8 wickets.

Man of the Match: Jasprit Bumrah

Full scorecard