On Day 7 of the 2019 ICC World Cup, Virat Kohli’s Team India finally got their campaign underway, against South Africa, who were playing their third match of the tournament. Lot’s of ‘saving the best for last’ cliches would've been used for the Indian team and their performance had it not been for the big setbacks to the Proteas squad right before the game. Faf du Plessis was missing two of his bowling spearheads with Dale Steyn ruled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury on the eve of the match and Llungi Ngidi being forced to skip the India game but to a hamstring injury.
The Men in Blue though put up a clinical performance nonetheless, first restricting South Africa to 227 and then chasing it down with ease to win the match by 6 wickets. Now for those who missed the game — here are some of the big moments that well, guided the result India’s way.
Faf du Plessis had won the toss and elected to field in South Africa’s two previous matches and lost both fixtures, against Bangladesh and England. The Proteas skipper was so unsure of how to gauge the English wickets that on the eve of the game against India, he said he wished he’d lost the previous tosses.
However, in Southampton, Faf called it right once again but this time, he elected to bat first, a decision that eventually played a key part in the result. This was, after all, one of India’s most well-rounded bowling units while the batting had been untested in an ODI for almost 3 months. Why not put Rohit and Shikhar into face the music early, specially in overcast conditions that his own fast bowlers could have benefitted from?
During the innings break, Sachin Tendulkar too was critical of the call.
“I felt there was a bit of excess baggage being carried from the last experiences. In a tournament like the World Cup, you play different opposition in every game and at different venues.”Sachin Tendulkar
Bumrah’s Opening Spell
The second big moment of the match followed soon after the ball was handed to Jasprit Bumrah. The world’s number one ranked bowler was almost unplayable and packed off Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock by the 6th over. By the end of his first 5-over spell, South Africa were 34/2 in 10 overs, the worst opening power-play of any batting team in the tournament so far.
Chahal’s Dream WC Debut
After the early wickets, Proteas skipper Faf and Van der dussen then added 54 for the third wicket before Yuzvendra Chahal once again turned the match India’s way. Two wickets, off the first and last balls of the 20th over, and both the set batsmen were back in the hut. South Africa were reduced to 80/4. Chahal picked up two more wickets as he finished with 4/51 - the second-best figures by an Indian bowler on his World Cup debut. Morris and Rabada then added 66 for the 8th wicket and helped South Africa post 227.
Rohit Sharma Carries His Bat
In reply, India’s innings never was under any major threat because of one man- Rohit Sharma. The opener was in fact dropped in the second over by Faf du Plessis but went onto carry his bat and score his 23rd ODI century, off 128 balls. It was the first 100 by an Asian player at this World Cup! Among his partners, MS Dhoni top-scored with 34 while KL Rahul, playing at 4, made 26 and Virat Kohli got out on 18. Finally, it was Hardik Pandya who hit the winnings runs and India won with 15 balls to spare.
Next up is Australia on Sunday.