Once again the Proteas proved that when it comes to knock-outs, even if it is a virtual one like this match, they seem to crumble rather easily.
The South-africans came in the tournament as the number 1 ODI side and even played like one in their very first game against the Sri Lankans. But the shocking debacle against Pakistan seems to have dishevelled the balance inside their team.
As predicted earlier, India’s number one off-spinner got the opportunity to evince his precious repertoire and he didn’t disappoint at all. Unlike the rest of the tournament so far, the weather was immaculately beautiful and worm today which, de facto, made the wicket a bit sluggish although it was still quite conducive to batting.
Being asked to bat first by India, the openers, Quinton de Kock and veteran Hashim Amla, started in a cautious demeanour. Courtesy some miserly bowling from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Bumrah, they never really got the opportunity to genuinely dominate the Indian bowling attack.
The first wicket fell in 76 when Hashim Amla got befuddled by an impeccable drifter by Ashwin. On the other side, De Kock was his usual self against his favourite opposition. He milked the Indian bowlers to get to his only half-century against Team India as the previous ones were converted into hundreds. A reckless slog sweep against Jadeja caused his downfall.
Things start to get haywire when two consecutive miscommunications of the skipper AB, who looked in touch today, and David Miller, the highest scorer from the previous match, with Faf du Plessis caused two ludicrous run-outs. Suddenly from 116/2, they became 142/4. After that, they sort of evanesced piecemeal from the match.
Despite South Africa’s age old disease of choking under pressure, nothing can be taken away from the Indian fielding corps. Their dexterity and sheer athleticism on the field along with some commendable bowling effort from the bowlers had truly done the trick. Jadeja was really economical (39 runs in 10 overs) with his metronomic left-arm spin, so were Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar. Pandya did an impressive job too when he disturbed the furniture of du Plessis with a slower off-cutter.
By losing 8 wickets for just 51 runs, South Africa put the total of a paltry 191 runs on the board. As the pitch was slightly on the slower side, a total of 275 would have made the game really intriguing but 191 runs were too meagre to challenge a team who likes chasing big totals.
The Indian skipper proved again that chasing totals is his metier by amassing 76 runs. His partnership of 128 runs with Dhawan (78 off 83) proved to be the knockout punch against the Proteas.
On the the other side, Dhawan’s love affair with England and Champions Trophy continues as he became the fastest Indian to reach 1000 runs in ICC tournaments. He seems to be a strong contender to snatch the golden bat yet again.
If nothing extraordinary happens tomorrow in the match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Team India will be facing another neighbouring country, Bangladesh in the semis at Edgbaston.
As for the South Africans, they have to wait another year for an ICC tournament to take place.
India 193 for 2 (Dhawan 78, Kohli 76*) beat South Africa 191 (De Kock 53, Bhuvneshwar 2-23, Bumah 2-28) by 8 wickets MOM- Jaspit Bumrah