After a week-long wait in England, Team India made it worthwhile for their fans with a resounding victory in their opening match. Often regarded as title contenders, India made a perfect start at the World Cup beating South Africa by six wickets. Rohit Sharma stamped his authority with the slowest but undoubtedly one of the best ODI centuries of his career. South Africa, on the contrary, has hit rock bottom with three consecutive defeats for the first time in World Cup history. As the net run-rate will play its part but now they have to win their remaining six games if they want to stay alive in this competition.
Having won the toss, the Proteas elected to bat first on a precarious track. However, their plan soon backfired as they lost both their opening batsmen to the brilliance of Jasprit Bumrah. After sending back Hashim Amla with a peach of a delivery, Bumrah pushed one away from de Kock, and the Southpaw edged it straight to Kohli at third slip, trying to play a cover drive. Faf du Plessis and Van der Dussen stitched a crucial partnership 54-run partnership before Yuzvendra Chahal cleaned them up in a single over.
From then on, South African batsmen started to feel the nerves and Indian spinners dominated during the middle overs. Some useful contributions down the order by Phehlukwayo(34), Chris Morris (42) and Rabada (31*) took them to a respectable total of 227 at the end of first innings. Chahal finished with four wickets to break their backbone while Bumrah picked two crucial wickets top of the order to dismantle them.
Team India’s chase went wrong when Dhawan (8) and Kohli (18) were edged behind the wicket, trying to fetch one from outside off. KL Rahul, along with Rohit Sharma, took control in the middle overs to put the pressure back on the South African bowlers. The duo added 85 runs for the fourth wicket before Rabada dismissed KL Rahul, who looked in good knick for his 26 runs. MS Dhoni arrived in the middle under tricky circumstances, but he took the game deep and proved once again why he is hailed as the greatest finisher of all time. Though, he couldn’t take his team over the line as he was caught and bowled by Morris 15 runs short of the target.
India, who fielded like livewire on the field yesterday, ticked many boxes which would boost their confidence for the remaining of the tournament. Rohit Sharma played the inning of his lifetime to seal an emphatic win over a quality bowling attack. He remained unbeaten at 122 off 144 deliveries in his heroic knock to bring up his 26th ODI century. India will be mighty satisfied with such an impressive performance against the Proteas and will gain some confidence heading into the Australian encounter. For South Africa, the scenario isn’t looking good, and it seems they are going to carry on the ‘Chokers’ tag for another four years.