Sunday, February 22, 2015

India humble pre tournament favorites South Africa by 130 runs in Melbourne

India vs South Africa at Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne: Feb 22, 2015 - Match Review

India Beat South Africa by 130 runs.

The much anticipated clash between India and South Africa took place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground which was packed by a large and enthusiastic crowd of around 87,000 people. Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the all important toss and decided that India will bat first in this day-night encounter. South Africa had made one change to their team from the last match, bringing in Wayne Parnell in place of Farhaan Behardien.

Steyn and Philander started well with both of them giving nothing away and swinging the ball just enough to keep the batsmen honest. The brilliance of AB De Villiers brought South Africa the first wicket as the in form Rohit Sharma departed without scoring, run out by a direct hit. Kohli then joined Shikhar Dhawan and both of them began the resseraction work. Yes, the progress was slow but both of them looked assured in their footwork. There were odd moments of luck but by en large both were looking comfortable. Dhawan and Kohli added 127 runs in 24.2 overs and laid the platform for a big total. Dhawan was given a life when Amla put down a simple chance at point, Dhawan was on 53 then. Kohli pulled a rank long hop from Tahir straight in the hands of Faf Du Plessis which brought Rahane to the crease.

Rahane started churning over the strike and hit his straps straight away. With growing pressure, errors started creeping in the South African fielding, easy runs were given and fumbles happened all too often. Dhawan reached his century and one could hear the whole of India heave a huge sigh of relief. All of India's batsmen had hit form now. Rahane dispatched Steyn and Parnell for glorious sixes and runs were flowing and a big total loomed. When Dhawan departed after making 137 runs the damage was already done. Rahane followed soon after cracking a superb 79 off just 60 balls. South Africa pulled things back just a touch in the last 10 overs as India scored just around 80 runs in that period.

Indian bowlers came charging out after the lunch break and gave nothing away. They bowled tight lines and the ball seemed to be flying in to Dhoni's gloves. The pressure became too much for De Kock and he lobbed a simple catch to Kohli who accepted the offer gleefully diving forward from mid off. Raina then missed a simple run out chance of Amla after Rahane had made a tremendous diving save in the covers. But it was a night when all the Indian bowlers bowled with fire in their eyes and the fielders prowled like panthers. No easy runs were available and with the required run rate creeping up with every dot ball, Amla pulled one to Shami who took a fantastic back peddling catch at deep fine leg. AB De Villiers joined Faf Du Plessis and they put on a steady partnership of 68 runs for the third wicket when De Villiers was run out attempting a difficult 2nd run, the throw from Mohit Sharma proved deadly for the Protea skipper.

A disappointed AB De Villiers walks off after being run out 
by Mohit Sharma at MCG against India

The fall of AB coincided with Ashwin and Jadeja turning the screws even further on the batsmen. Faf departed after reaching a painful 50. JP Duminy and Miller tried to repeat their feat from the last game but the Indians were on top of their game having smelt blood. The South Africans capitulated from 133-3 to 177 all out. The Indian bowling and their fielding seemed like it had turned a huge corner. The unit to which not many gave any chance (including yours truly) played like champions. India won by a whopping 130 runs.

With this huge win, India is likely to finish at the top of the table in Pool B. They have started their campaign with two convincing triumphs over Pakistan and then winning this against the much fancied South Africans. I do not think that the most ardent of Indian fan would have believed if anyone would have told him that these would be the results of India's two opening games after seeing their performance in the tri series where they lost every single game. More than the win, it is the manner in which they have won which must warm the heart of every fan of the Men in Blue.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

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