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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Bumrah, Rohit and Chahal give India winning start

India 230 for 4 (Rohit 122*, Dhoni 34, Rabada 2-39) beat South Africa 227 for 9 (Morris 42, du Plessis 38, Chahal 4-51, Bumrah 2-35) by six wickets
As it happened

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Agarkar: Bumrah bowling rockets like in recent times

Ajit Agarkar says that India's bowlers have done exactly what Virat Kohli will have wanted in the opening overs against South Africa

Whoooooooosh.

That's the sound of ball beating bat. South Africa were not in control of nine of the first 12 balls that Jasprit Bumrah bowled.

Crrrraaaccckkkkkk.

That's the sound of ball hitting bat. And breaking it. Kagiso Rabada made sure the entire world could hear it. But outside of that match-up, South Africa really had nothing to offer India.

They'd lost Dale Steyn. They don't know when Lungi Ngidi will be fit again. And they can't ask AB de Villiers to come back. Meanwhile, the other team had the world's best batsman, one of the bowlers of this generation, and two highly-skilled wristspinners. Essentially, this game was like an Angry Bird fighting Thanos.

The impression hit home even further when Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav worked in tandem. From 78 for 2, it was quickly 89 for 5 as the revolutions those two put on the ball produced dip, drift and sheer magic.

Rassie van der Dussen tried to reverse sweep his way out of trouble and was bowled. JP Duminy figured he might read the turn better if he played off the back foot. Out lbw. Even their captain, Faf du Plessis, couldn't keep a slider from crashing into his stumps.

South Africa were on a recovery mission from that point on and though Chris Morris did rather well in the final overs, walloping 42 off 34 balls, the early damage was just too much. That is why Bumrah was the biggest influence in this game and watching him was a pleasure.

The fast bowler's glare tends to go down in history. But it's even cooler when they smirk. It's almost as if they're telling the batsmen, "heh, is it that easy to beat you?"

Bumrah's upper lip curled several times in his first over on World Cup debut. He had Quinton de Kock - a legitimate contender for Man of the Series in this tournament - looking like a cardboard cut-out. Everything zipped past the edge and each time, the bowler just smirked. Each time, all he did was smirk.

WATCH - Highlights of Chahal's magical spell on Hotstar (India only)

A wicket looked around the corner, except it was Hashim Amla who fell, caught at first slip, off the first ball he faced from Bumrah. Du Plessis walked in with four catchers behind him.

The level of cricket at this World Cup is also a function of the pitches being rolled out (and maybe the 10.30am starts as well). Groundsmen all across England have been good enough to leave a little grass on the pitches - it was uneven in Southampton, resulting in uneven bounce - and that's made the contest between bat and ball all the more compelling. So making runs here mattered. It signalled that you had the bottle to succeed. And Rohit Sharma showed plenty.

A few of his 122 runs came off mis-hits. He was even dropped on 1 when Rabada was in the middle of a scary good spell. But then, in the eighth over, he hit a glorious pull shot and never looked back. Braving through very difficult spells of fast bowling is a part of his game that doesn't get enough credit.

"Couldn't play my natural game," Rohit said at the presentation. "You have to play out and see what the ball was doing and take your time to play those shots. Certain shots that I love to play, I had to cut it down and make sure I play close to the body and make sure I leave as many balls as possible in the initial spell. Those are the basics that you had to do on a pitch like that and that's what I was trying to do."

Sticking to that gameplan meant he was there to help India recover from a poor start (They lost Shikhar Dhawan for 8). He was there when South Africa got rid of Virat Kohli thanks to a perfectly executed plan (consistently bowl back of a length and along the line of fifth stump). And he was still there when the winning runs were hit (Hardik Pandya putting the final flourish with a violent cut shot). You can't ask more of an opener.

South Africa, meanwhile, have a lot to think about. They've lost all three of their matches at this World Cup, and although the format allows for a slow start, the team is short on resources and practically bereft of confidence.

Rabada was the only one trying to make things happen. Nine of his first 18 deliveries made the batsman lose control. "Come oooonnnn!" he'd screamed watching the Rohit catch go down, fists clenched, head slanted upwards, a vision of pure anger. He used that emotion to fuel his performance, harassing the Indian batsmen with his pace, bounce and laser-like accuracy.

But the problem was, even when he generated those wicket-taking opportunities, his team-mates kept messing it up. Rabada fooled Rohit on 107 as well only for David Miller to drop an absolute dolly at cover. And that basically summed up South Africa. One captivating genius. Ten others struggling to keep up.

India 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st13S DhawanRG Sharma
2nd41RG SharmaV Kohli
3rd85RG SharmaKL Rahul
4th74MS DhoniRG Sharma
5th17RG SharmaHH Pandya