press trust of india
CARDIFF, 6 JUNE: Opener Shikhar Dhawan bludgeoned his way to a maiden ODI century as a rejuvenated India kicked off their campaign in the ICC Champions Trophy with a comfortable 26-run victory over South Africa here today.
Chasing an imposing target of 332, South Africa were all out for 305. The Proteas lost three top wickets for six runs in the group B match.
South Africa, who ran neck-and-neck in terms of runs with India till at least the 35th over, paid the price for losing far too many wickets after at least three middle-order batsmen frittered good starts.
India, on the other hand, profited after their openers Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (65) laid a solid foundation with an opening stand of 127. This was the biggest difference between victory and defeat. Dhawan was adjudged Man of the Match.
Robin Peterson’s departure in the 25th over opened the floodgates as South Africa lost three quick wickets, including the man who had the calibre to take the game to the wire, skipper A B De Villiers.
Two horrible mix-ups ruined the South African run chase. Peterson, who survived a run out chance when he was on 29, was not lucky the second time as a diving Ravindra Jadeja caught him well short after De Villiers refused to run.
The left-handed Peterson was out for 68 (72 balls, 6 x 4s) and his 124-run third-wicket partnership with De Villiers kept South Africa in the running even after the Proteas lost openers Hashim Amla (22) and Colin Ingram (6) to Indian pacers Umesh Yadav (2/75) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/49), respectively.
Peterson, struck in the elbow by a Yadav delivery when he was on 17, battled pain and stitched a confident stand with his captain till disaster struck. J P Duminy (LBW to Jadeja for 14) followed Peterson and then a rush of blood saw De Villiers throw his wicket away after a polished 70 off 71 balls, his 33rd ODI half-century.
At a time when South Africa needed to protect their wickets, De Villiers’ exit gave India a great advantage. He charged out to Yadav, tried to slap a short of length ball to mid-wicket but ended up top-edging to square leg, where Jadeja held an easy catch.
From 182 for four, South Africa collapsed to 188 for six in the 33rd over when David Miller was run out without facing a ball. The morning session belonged to Dhawan. He was third out in the 38th over after scoring a well-paced 114, studded with 12 fours and a six. The only ‘life’ in his 94-ball innings came immediately after he scored his century. A B De Villiers missed a stumping chance after the left-hander stepped out to off-spinner J P Duminy and missed the line.
That blemish apart, Dhawan was the toast of the Indian crowd, almost 70 per cent of the 16000-strong turnout.
After he got his eye in, the Delhi batsman batted with gay abandon, often stepping out to find the little gaps in a tight off-side field. When he was on 45, Dhawan was struck on his helmet after failing to shy away from a Ryan McLaren bouncer.
A cut behind his right ear didn’t deter the gutsy batsman, who raced to his second ODI 50 in 44 balls.
After Sharma got out for 65, Dhawan featured in a 83-run second wicket partnership with Virat Kohli (31 off 41 balls) as he held the innings together till he perished in the 38th over trying to sweep Duminy but only managing to find substitute fielder Aaron Phangiso at square leg. Interestingly, in the last six years only two left-handers have made ODI hundreds against the South Africans. Kumar Sangakkara did it in Johannesburg in January 2012 and it was Dhawan’s turn today.
Jadeja scored a rapid 47 later in the innings.