By BV Swagath
India prevailed by 26 runs against South Africa in a high-scoring affair on a flat batting track at Cardiff in the opening match of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. Needing 332 runs to win, South Africa lost a couple of early wickets but bounced back to threaten to chase down the target. However, thanks to some electrifying fielding from the Indians, the Proteas lost their way and ended up with a comprehensive defeat.
The Proteas went down fighting though with all-rounder Ryan McLaren scoring a career best of 71* from 61 balls. South Africa made India sweat for victory by ending up with 305 all out in 50 overs. The Indian bowlers found it difficult to contain the South African batsmen on a flat track but a couple of run outs made their task possible of defending a total of 331.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav removed the South African opening pair of Colin Ingram and Hashim Amla early. Ingram was caught at second slip, driving a Kumar away swinger loosely off the backfoot. Amla, who was looking good with a 15-ball 22, was caught behind low by Dhoni when he got an inside edge trying to straight drive an inducker from Umesh Yadav on the up.
SA was on the backfoot at 31 for 2 in 3.5 overs but got back on track thanks to a busy partnership between Robin Peterson, who was promoted to no.3, and Skipper AB de Villiers. The pair took the score past 150 and got separated through a brilliant diving stop at mid wicket from Ravindra Jadeja which caused the run out of a well set Robin Peterson (68 from 72 balls with 6 fours).
India after breaking the 124-run stand for the 3rd wicket got firm grip on the match by taking three wickets in succession. First was JP Duminy, shuffling far too across in a flick and missing a Jadeja dart that had him lbw. Duminy (14) asked for a review but lost it with the ball going onto hit leg. The big moment of the match came when AB de Villiers decided to give the charge to Umesh Yadav with the required run rate increasing. A clever Yadav banged a quick bouncer and forced a top edge pull from de Villiers (70 from 71 balls with 7 fours) which lobbed up to mid wicket. India’s good fielding resulted in the wicket of the explosive David Miller who was run out for a duck without facing a ball following a mix-up with Faf du Plessis.
The writing was on the wall for a heavy defeat for the Proteas they slipped to 188 for 6 in the 33rd over but Faf du Plessis and Ryan McLaren weren’t going to give up that easily. The next important breakthrough for India came from Ishant when Faf du Plessis miscued a big shot to be caught at mid on. Du Plessis scored a 23-ball 30 while putting up a breezy 50-run partnership for the 7th wicket. Ishant got another wicket in his comeback spell when Rory Kleinveldt top edged a pull to the keeper. The 9th wicket went to Jadeja when he cleaned up Tsotsobe in an attempted slog.
Just when everyone thought the match was over after the fall of nine wickets, an injured Morne Morkel walked in to join McLaren and take the fight till the last ball. South Africa were way behind the required run rate though and McLaren’s 71* from 61 balls (with 11 fours and a six) went in vain. Ravindra Jadeja was the pick of the bowlers for India with 9-1-31-2.
Dhawan maiden ton, Jadeja blitz powers India to 331
Earlier, a superb maiden ODI ton from Shikhar Dhawan and a perfect cameo from Ravindra Jadeja in the slog overs helped India to pile up 331 for 7 against a depleted South African attack. The surprise of the match was the Cardiff pitch which played absolutely flat with hardly any movement off the surface.
India got a fabulous start from its new opening combination of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The pair put up 127 in 21.2 overs before Rohit (65 from 81 balls with 8 fours and a six) got out, pulling McLaren to deep backward squareleg. Virat Kohli scored a neat 31 (from 41 balls) to take the score past 200 with Dhawan before he pulled Tsotsobe to deep mid wicket in the 35th over. Dhawan, who registered a maiden ODI century in just 80 balls was eventually dismissed in the 38th over sweeping JP Duminy to backward squareleg. Dhawan finished with 114 which came in 94 balls with 12 fours and a six which would give him the Man of the Match award later on.
The World Champions lost some steam after Dhawan’s exit with Dinesh Karthik (caught behind trying to upper cut a slower bouncer from McLaren) and Suresh Raina (caught off a leading edge trying to flick a short ball from McLaren) not doing much damage. India slipped to 260 for 5 in the 42nd over and were in the danger of getting bowled out. Skipper MS Dhoni pushed the score further with a 26-ball 27 before holing out to long on. India got to a secured total of 331 for 7 thanks to a confident knock of 47* from 29 balls (with 7 fours and a six) by Ravindra Jadeja.
For the Proteas, Duminy was the stand out bowler, taking 1 for 42 in 10 overs. Morne Morkel, who got the ball to fly to the keeper had walked off the park with a side strain after bowling 6.5 overs.
Toss and Teams
South Africa have won the toss and asked India to bat first under cold cloudy conditions at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. For the Proteas, Dale Steyn sits out from the match with a side strain. India have opted to play Rohit Sharma ahead of Murali Vijay as Shikhar Dhawan’s opening partner.
The pitch has good grass covers and is quite hard. It should have plenty of pace and carry. With the conditions being overcast, the ball should be darting around in the air and there could be some encouraging lateral movement for the seamers off the pitch.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (C&WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Colin Ingram, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (C&WK), JP Duminy, David Miller, Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson, Morne Morkel, Rory Kleinveldt, Lonwabo Tsotsobe