India v South Africa, Champions Trophy, Group B, Cardiff June 6, 2013

Openers, fielders give India big win


India 331 for 7 (Dhawan 114, Rohit 65) beat South Africa 305 (McLaren 71*, de Villiers 70, Petersen 68) by 26 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

India's new-look ODI team got off to a bumper start, negotiating short-pitched bowling to post 331 and then fielding superbly to pull South Africa back every time they threatened to break away. MS Dhoni squeezed the life out of South Africa's chase with his shrewd employment of spinners - combined figures of R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina read 25-1-114-2 - as if this was subcontinent.

Overhead, at least, this was far from overhead. It was a cold morning in Wales, South Africa won the toss and asked India to bat first. Cue to bowl short then. Not like South Africa did, though. Apart from Morne Morkel, and in Dale Steyn's absence, none of their bowlers had the sting to trouble the young Indian batsmen. Shikhar Dhawan became only the second left-hand batsman to score a century against South Africa in six years, the 127 that he added with Rohit Sharma was the first hundred opening stand against South Africa in more than two years, and they became only the second opening pair in four years to have both scored 50 or more against South Africa.

South Africa weren't helped by their fielding either. The ball lobbed over two fielders at the boundary, when Shikhar Dhawan was on 27 and 70. Then AB de Villiers missed a stumping when Dhawan was 102. There were more than a few misfields along the way. Morkel pulled up with a quad strain too, and bowled only 6.5 overs for just 27. Ryan McLaren gave South Africa a chance, though, with some clever slower short balls towards the end, but India's slowing down wasn't quite Nagpur 2011, the last time these two teams played, when India had gone from 267 for 1 in the 40th over to 296 all out.

At the toss, when India were itching to have a bowl themselves, they would hardly have split hairs had they been offered more than 300. Morkel began the first over with testing short bowling, which Rohit did well to avoid. However, the others were gentle compared to Morkel, especially Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Rory Kleinveldt, who went for 164 in the 20 overs between them.

And Dhawan and Rohit hardly hit a shot in anger. It was all timing and placement after the cautious start. When Rohit eased into a Tsotsobe length ball for four through cover, the signs were all there. However, Rohit is known to throw it away too often. Not today. He attacked in a calculated manner, and from the other end saw Dhawan batting as if continuing from his Test debut.

Rohit remained fluent, Dhawan was crisp, and they took full toll of South Africa's rigid bowling and cold fielding. If Tsotsobe drew little help from the pitch, Kleinveldt kept bowling too short and too slow. McLaren began with deliveries down the leg side with fine leg up. Without taking risks, the openers raced away. When Rohit finally fell for 65 off 81, pulling a ball that was not short enough, India had already reached 127 in the 22nd over, and Dhawan was 53 off 49.

Suddenly Dhawan shifted to another gear, going after Tsotsobe, ramping him for four, and then charging him for a six over long-off. As expected, India took the Powerplay only at the latest possible moment, after Virat Kohli had picked out deep midwicket an over before the restrictions could be called upon. In the Powerplay, India scored 36 runs and lost two more wickets. When Dhoni fell in search of quick runs, the memories of Nagpur came back. However, Jadeja stayed cool, and capitalised on some short and length bowling towards the end to help India to 40 runs in the last 3.4 overs. He scored an unbeaten 47 off 29.

In reply, South Africa responded to early wickets with counterattack. Robin Peterson, the surprise No. 3, and de Villiers batted with ease to add a run-a-ball 124 for the third wicket. Petersen didn't bat like a pinch-hitter; he played proper shots, including a drive over extra cover off the bowling of Ishant Sharma. De Villiers began like a dream. Anything with the slightest hint of width was punched through covers.

Around the 15th-over mark, though, Dhoni began to play the game on his own terms. There was a spell of three overs for nine runs immediately after the two spinners began bowling in tandem. South Africa seemed happy with knocking the ball around, and Dhoni was happy with the calm. Amid the calm, Jadeja produced brilliance with a full-length diving save at midwicket. He had the presence of mind to not instinctively throw at the non-striker's end, where both the batsmen had ended up.

The spin choke followed during which JP Duminy reunited with his demons against spin, de Villiers got out to a pressure shot and David Miller was run out for a diamond duck. Faf du Plessis and Ryan McLaren threatened a late heist with a 50-run stand in less than five overs, but this time Suresh Raina ran back to take a good catch at mid-off. The injured Morkel chose to bat with McLaren, and their 48-run stand limited the net run-rate damage.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Manesh on June 10, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    @ RednWhiteArmy. In that measures, England seems to be a a 5th or 6th division team based on their ODI performances!

  • Sumit on June 10, 2013, 6:46 GMT

    Hence containing the powerful West Indies batting line up will be the key to India's success and judging the way West Indies batsman flared against the Pakistan spinners in their first match, an "IPL in-form" Amit Mishra can be the inspired selection in place of often misfiring and costly Ishant Sharma. Thus "over-dose" of spin with Offie R. Ashwin, Leggie Amit Mishra and Left armer Ravindra Jadeja on a dry and used Oval wicket will not be a bad option.

  • Sumit on June 10, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    Come Tuesday, 11 June, and the Team India bowlers will be put to test by some of the mighty power hitters of World Cricket i.e. Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo & co. In the opening match, the way AB de Villiers and Robin Peterson were scoring at will, at one stage it seemed that South Africa will cruise through to the victory, despite chasing a mammoth total of 331. Had it not been the flash of brilliance in the field by Ravindra Jadeja in inflicting the "game changing" run out of Peterson followed by hara-kiri by the "perennial chokers" South African batsmen, including almost comical run out of David Miller, one of the centurions of IPL 2013; India would have well lost its way in the first match itself. ... cont

  • Sumit on June 10, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    Well begin is half the job done and the format of this ICC Champions trophy 2013 is such that this literally holds good i.e. Team India will have to win one of the remaining two matches, against West Indies and Pakistan, to qualify into the semifinal round from this group of death. India's next two matches are against the most mercurial and temperamental teams of the tournament and judging from the performance in the first match, Team India will have to step up its effort, a few notches, to overcome the challenge in its upcoming matches. ... cont

  • Sumit on June 10, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    In past, India, more or less, had always been a slow starter in the ICC multi-team events and therefore, often Team India lands itself in a "do or die" situation. Before storming into the finals of World Cup 2003, India had lost badly to Australia and just manage to scrap through against Holland. Even in the tournament wining performance of T-20 World Cup 2007, India had initially played a tie with Pakistan and then lost to the Kiwis in the preliminary rounds. Also, before lifting the World Cup 2011, Dhoni's men had played a tie against a below-par England and then lost to South Africa in the initial round. Hence a wining start against South Africa in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 must have come as a big relief to the Indian team think tank. ...cont

  • Sheik on June 9, 2013, 7:59 GMT

    @rednwhite army..good morning..sorry to have woken you up mate...champions trophy is a Odi tourney..not a test competition...and by that count india leads eng 22-3 in odi's in india...much better than 6-1 dont you think? just so that you know... not everyone outside england follows test cricket like the poms..more people follow odi n t20 than follow trott or compton bore us to death....england is not the whole world and people outside have different priorities.. we follow odi 's more passionately than the longer version and we absolutely own england in this format.

  • Sean on June 9, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    India are a 2nd division team. England thrashed them 6-1 in tests. SA & England are light years ahead. ODI cricket simply hides India deficiencies.

  • Prasad on June 9, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    First time India Team has been played without one of the great player i.e (Sachin Tendulkar) in ICC Champion Trophy. Missing great player in India team squad............

  • Al on June 8, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    I have been saying this all along - there's not shortage of talent in India. Just get rid of non-performers like Viru, Gauti and 10dulkar, and give a chance to youngsters. They will perform. The best thing this selection committee has done is to ease out those 3 non-performers. Selectors need to do the same thing in bowling - get rid of always "unlucky" Ishant, and give a chance to youngsters like Shami Ahmed, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, etc. Young Bhuvi has already done enough to justify his selection.

  • venkat on June 8, 2013, 17:51 GMT

    To the original Harmony -- imitation is the best form of flattery my friend! And, to the not so creative imposters, Sachin faced the two big stars missing from the recent India-SA match, Steyn and Kallis, and scored 200 runs, the then highest ODI score ever. Dhoni cracked a fantastic quick fire half century and even Kartik scored 79 in that match. India made over 400 and both Steyn and Kallis went for nearly 9 runs an over each!! So, I wish Steyn and Kallis were playing in the recent match, India would have scored 400 again. In case you want to say something about a flat pitch, etc., on the same pitch where India made 400, SA couldn't even manage 250 despite ABD having a good day. So there!