India roared back to winning ways after they hammered South Africa by eight wickets to make it to the semifinals of the Champions Trophy 2017.
Virat Kohli won the toss and decided to bowl first-a decision which raised the eyebrows of many. Statistically, this decision was against India as they had lost their last seven encounters against the Proteas while chasing.
When everyone expected it to be a tough contest between the top two sides in ODI cricket, it turned out to be a totally one sided match as India dominated all throughout the game barring the start of the Proteas innings when openers Hashim Amla and Quinton De Kock put on a 76 run opening stand.
Things started tilting in India’s favour when the scoreboard was 116/2. Amla (35) was dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin who was playing his first match in this edition of the tournament and De Kock (53) was bowled by his spin partner Ravindra Jadeja. But De Villiers’ (16) run out in the 29th over was when India started to gain an upper hand in the do-or-die encounter. Hardik Pandya was quick to throw the ball to the safe hands of Mahendra Singh Dhoni who knocked off the bails in quick time making the South African skipper the second in the list of most dismissals by run outs in ICC ODI tournaments, after Pakistan’s Inzamam Ul-Haq.
Faf Du Plessis, who was responsible for De Villiers’s run out committed the same crime once again in the space of five balls as this time, the victim was David Miller. Miller, who had played a good innings in South Africa’s last match against Pakistan was sent back to the hut after both he and Du Plessis were stranded at one end, although the latter had made it into the crease. A solid throw from Jasprit Bumrah helped Virat Kohli whip the bails at the non-striker’s end with no difficulty at all.
To make matters worse, Du Plessis (36) himself inside edged a delivery from Hardik Pandya on to his stumps which was pretty similar to his dismissal against Pakistan. This wicket in the 34th over totally pushed the backs of the Proteas against the wall as India looked to continue with their dominance in the match.
JP Duminy (20*) then showed some resistance as all the other remaining batsmen fell around him. To finish off the South African batting, it was only fitting that the innings ended with a highlight of what it has been so far as Imran Tahir, the last batsman was also run out thereby ending the innings at 191 with 5.3 overs still left.
In reply, India received an early jolt when in-form opener Rohit Sharma (12) was sent back to the pavilion by pacer Morne Morkel. But the defending champions did not leave any room for a South African comeback as the opener Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Virat Kohli continued to stamp their authority over the match with a 128-run stand that ensured their flight to Birmingham to face Bangladesh in the semi-finals.
Dhawan (78), who has had a brilliant record in the Champions Trophy so far became the fastest batsman to reach the 1000-run mark in ICC ODI tournaments as he did it in 16 innings, surpassing the great Sachin Tendulkar’s feat in 18 innings.
He attacked the bowlers during his stay at the crease as he hit 12 fours and a wonderful six on the leg-side. Skipper Kohli (76*) too played a supporting role and anchored the chase, after he had fallen for a duck in India’s heartbreaking loss to Asian rivals Sri Lanka.
In an attempt to finish things off quickly, Dhawan perished but Yuvraj Singh (23*) came out and hit the winning runs with a thunderous six to have some good hitting practice before the semis. India thus finished the game with 12 overs to spare. Courtesy this win, India maintained a clean sheet over the Proteas in the Champions Trophy.
To sum it all up, this win was a complete one for India as they were brilliant in all three areas of the game-batting, bowling and fielding. Virat Kohli and his men showed why they were the defending champions as South Africa justified their tag of being the, ‘chokers’ in ICC tournaments.
The next semi-finalist from this group will be decided on Monday after the Sri Lanka vs Pakistan match.
South Africa 191 all out in 44.3 overs (Quinton De Kock 53, Faf Du Plessis 36; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2/23) lost to India 193/2 in 38 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 78, Virat Kohli 76*; Imran Tahir 1/37) by eight wickets.