Virat Kohli's men put in a sterling effort in the field to give themselves a relatively easy target to chase!
South Africa’s undesirable ‘chokers’ tag came to the fore again, as a spectacular mid-innings collapse saw them post a paltry 192-run target for holders India in their final ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Group B game at The Oval on Sunday.
After winning the toss, Indian skipper Virat Kohli chose to field first and the management’s decision to give Ravichandran Ashwin a start in place of pacer Umesh Yadav was vindicated as it was the off-spinner who would give India a vital breakthrough in the match.
Openers Hashim Amla (35) and Quinton de Kock (53) had given the Proteas a slow but steady start had put them within sight of a total close to 300. Ashwin, however, had other ideas and in the 17th over sent in on that skidded more than Amla expected and the 34-year-old’s bat could only guide the ball on to the stumps.
De Kock, who enjoys a stellar record against the Indians, was the next to go, getting beat all-ends up by a Ravindra Jadeja beauty to depart soon after a well-constructed half-century.
With AB de Villiers (16) and Faf du Plessis (36) on the crease, South Africa had plenty of reasons to be confident still, but it was a error of enormous proportions that got the ‘Superman’ aka de Villiers out. Du Plessis called for a run, when in fact there wasn't one, and Hardik Pandya and Mahendra Singh Dhoni combined to send the Proteas’ danger man back to the pavilion.
The run-rate was dropping and probably that was the reason the South Africans were under pressure to take risky singles but the next dismissal was a classic example of smart pace bowling.
Pandya bowled a slowish off-cutter which befuddled du Plessis and the batsman edged onto the stumps to put the world’s top-ranked ODI side in full-on crisis mode.
JP Duminy (20*) was the only South African batsman to put up some semblance of a fight but it was time for Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to shine with the ball as the pacers made short work of the lower-order.
Bumrah’s dismissal of Chris Morris (4) was, surprisingly, his first wicket of the tournament and he soon added to his tally by trapping Andile Phehlukwayo (4) LBW. Phehlukwayo’s dismissal was a key moment in bringing the South African innings to a close as initially the umpire’s decision was not out. Kohli chose to go for a review and his instincts proved to be bang-on as the third umpire ruled in the Indians favour.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who ended with figures of 2-23, missed out on a hat-trick in the 43rd over but there was no respite for the South Africans as another mix-up between Duminy and 11th-man Imran Tahir in the 44th over saw the tail-ender stranded mid-way as Dhoni took the stumps off.
With a sub-200 target from 50 overs at under 4 runs per over, India should be able to chase down the total without much fuss and it looks like South Africa will be the team exiting the eight-nation tournament early.