Dhawan's ton powers India to facile victory

Dhoni's men post 26-run win over SA

Dhawan's ton powers India to facile victory

As the morning nip here at the Welsh capital gave way to bright sunshine, India turned the heat on South Africa with another stellar batting show to get their Champions Trophy campaign off to a flying start. 

Riding on Shikhar Dhawan’s maiden ODI hundred (114, 94b, 12x4, 1x6) and Rohit Sharma’s measured half-century (65, 81b, 8x4, 1x6), India piled on their third successive 300-plus total -- 331/7 to be precise -- and then packed off South Africa to 305 all out to register a 26-run win in a Group ‘B’ clash at the Wales Cardiff Stadium on Thursday. India had successfully chased down a 334-run target against Sri Lanka in the opening warm-up match in Birmingham and in the second tie, they posted 308/6 in their 243-run rout of Australia on Tuesday.  

India began their defence of an impressive total in right earnest, removing both the openers – Colin Ingram and Hashim Amla – when the score was 31, but skipper AB de Villiers (70, 71b, 7x4) and pinch-hitter Robin Peterson (68, 72b, 6x4) brought the chase back on track with almost a run-a-ball 124-run association for the third wicket. The run out of Peterson, however, effectively turned the tide in India’s favour. The margin of victory could have been more flattering but the resilience of Ryan McLaren (71 n.o.) and the waywardness of Indian bowlers on an admittedly good wicket helped South Africa walk away with their honour intact.

In fact, Proteas’ running between the wickets, just like their fielding on the day, was at best amateurish. David Miller, another batsman with the potential to win the match on his own, committed a similar mistake and paid with his wicket. With this win, India maintained their perfect record – three wins out of three matches -- against South Africa in this event.    

Having elected to bowl in slightly overcast conditions in the morning, South African attack had been considerably weakened by the absence of their main strike bowler Dale Steyn through a side strain. Even so, the South Africans, with the likes of Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Ryan McLaren in their ranks, were expected to put the Indian batsmen through a stern test of pace, bounce and swing. But all they could manage was a couple of hits on the helmet grills of Dhawan and Virat Kohli as India gave a fitting reply to AB de Villiers’ assertion that they had plans in place to counter the in-from Indian batsmen. That Morkel, the most impressive of the lot, walked off after bowling 6.5 overs following a thigh strain further blunted the South African attack.     

Though MS Dhoni had said he preferred specialist batsmen to play in specific positions on the eve of the match, Rohit’s inclusion at the expense of M Vijay came as little surprise. Rohit did no harm to his cause with a steady knock. His carefully constructed 127-run stand with Dhawan provided the desired start and platform for India to mount a big total. McLaren briefly got South Africa back in the game with two scalps with almost 10 overs to go, but an enterprising Ravindra Jadeja produced an unbeaten 47 (29b, 7x4, 1x6) to help India end the innings on a high.       

Without any surprise, the Proteas’ bowlers resorted to short-pitched stuff and it met with a rare Indian counter that delighted the near capacity crowd, formed largely of Indian supporters. With a large expat population here coming in droves, the venue had virtually turned into an Indian stadium with the Tri-colour fluttering prominently and Bollywood numbers blaring through loud speakers.

While Rohit earned himself another lifeline, Dhawan struck his second successive international hundred following his blistering 174 against Australia on his Test debut in Mohali this March. Mixing his copy-book shots with some outlandish strokes, the man-of-the-match brought up a stroke-filled century that was at once delightful and daring. The opener was the beneficiary of some sloppy fielding by the Proteas but that hardly diminished the value of his innings.           

INDIA

Rohit c Peterson b McLaren     65
(81b, 8x4, 1x6)
Dhawan c (sub) b Duminy     114
(94b, 12x4, 1x6)
Kohli c Amla b Tsotsobe     31
(41b, 2x4)
Karthik c de Villiers b McLaren     14
(15b, 1x4, 1x6)
Dhoni c du Plessis b Tsotsobe     27
(26b, 3x4)
Raina c Duminy b McLaren     9
(6b, 1x6)
Jadeja (not out)     47
(29b, 7x4, 1x6)
Ashwin (run out)     10
(10b, 1x4)
Bhuvneshwar (not out)     0
(0b)
Extras (LB-4, W-8, NB-2)     14
Total (for 7 wkts, 50 overs)     331
Fall of wickets: 1-127 (Rohit), 2-210 (Kohli), 3-227 (Dhawan), 4-240 (Karthik), 5-260 (Raina), 6-291 (Dhoni), 7-323 (Ashwin).
Bowling: Morkel 6.5-0-27-0 (nb-1), Tsotsobe 10-0-83-2 (w-2), Klienveldt 10-0-81-0 (w-1, nb-1), McLaren 10-0-70-3 (w-3), Peterson 3.1-0-24-0, Duminy 10-0-42-1 (w-2).
Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 53/0; Power Play 2: 36-40 overs: 36/2.
SOUTH AFRICA
Amla c Dhoni b Yadav     22
(15b, 4x4)
Ingram c Raina b Bhuvneshwar     6
(5b, 1x4)
Peterson (run out)     68
(72b, 6x4)
De Villiers c Jadeja b Yadav     70
(71b, 7x4)
Duminy lbw Jadeja     14
(24b)
Du Plessis c Raina b Ishant     30
(23b, 5x4)
Miller (run out)     0
(0b)
McLaren (not out)     71
(61b, 11x4, 1x6)
Klienveldt c Dhoni b Ishant     4
(5b)
Tsotsobe b Jadeja     3
(14b)
Morkel  b Bhuvneshwar     8
(11b, 1x4)
Extras (LB-1, W-7, NB-1)     9
Total (all out, 50 overs)     305
Fall of wickets: 1-13 (Ingram), 2-31 (Amla), 3-155 (Peterson), 4-182 (Duminy), 5-184 (de Villiers), 6-187 (Miller), 7-238 (du Plessis), 8-251 (Klienveldt), 9-257 (Tsotsobe).     

Bowling: Bhuvneshwar 7-0-49-2 (nb-1), Yadav 10-0-75-2 (w-2), Ishant 8-0-66-2 (w-2), Ashwin 10-0-47-0 (w-2), Jadeja 9-1-31-2, Raina 6-0-36-0 (w-1). PP1: 1-10 overs: 77/2; Power Play2: 36-40 overs: 39/2.

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