A convincing win

Ravindra Jadeja's all-round show helped India's cause.-AP

If India’s fielding was impressive, more so were its spin-bowling efforts, undertaken by the trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Suresh Raina. There were 16 consecutive overs of spin bowled through the middle of the innings, for the outflow of only 66 runs. That throttling job likely built towards South Africa’s demise. By Sreedutta Chidananda.

The margin may have been only 26 runs but India’s defeat of South Africa in the Champions Trophy opener was fairly comfortable in the end. Ryan McLaren threw his bat around for a breezy 71 but there was never any panic in the Indian camp. The battle had been won by then, the match turning on two distressing South African run-outs.

Robin Peterson had never scored more than 44 in his previous 68 matches but promoted up the order, he batted admirably, making 68 and stitching a 124-run partnership with A. B. de Villiers. Peterson’s run-out owed itself to a fine piece of fielding by Ravindra Jadeja, whose two wickets and terrific cameo earlier with the bat at the end of the Indian innings completed an excellent all-round performance. He is increasingly becoming invaluable to the side.

The second run-out resulted from a disappointing lack of communication between Faf du Plessis and David Miller, something de Villiers later called an “unforced error” committed in “the heat of the battle”.

Between that pair of dismissals and the skipper’s ill-advised charge down the wicket to Umesh Yadav’s short-pitched ball, South Africa relinquished control over the game, losing at one stage three wickets for six runs in 14 balls. de Villiers had produced shots of sigh-inducing beauty in his 70 and knowing what he is capable of, the fielders rejoiced at his dismissal more than anyone else’s.

If India’s fielding was impressive, more so were its spin-bowling efforts, undertaken by the trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Suresh Raina.

There were 16 consecutive overs of spin bowled through the middle of the innings, for the outflow of only 66 runs. That throttling job likely built towards South Africa’s demise.

On a pitch with bounce but no real threat de Villiers opted to field first, his mind perhaps influenced by the overcast sky early in the morning. The clouds overhead, however, melted away under a brilliant clear sun, and India’s openers made merry.

De Villiers defended his decision afterwards, pointing to the record of no chasing team hitherto having lost in Cardiff in all seven completed one-day matches there.

“That’s not the reason I bowled first,” he said. “We had a look at the statistics and past scores; whether it was cloudy or not we would have bowled first. I was expecting a bit more movement from the wicket which we didn’t get.”

In any case, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma batted watchfully for some time before realising there was little to fear from the bowlers before them. There was no Dale Steyn and while Morne Morkel — who was to limp off with a quad strain during his seventh over and subsequently be ruled out of the whole tournament — extracted some bounce, there was little to hustle the Indian batters.

Rory Kleinveldt and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, about as effective as a dinghy in the desert, served up a menu full of short-pitched bowling, and the Indians feasted. There were a few moments when they were harried: Dhawan saw two pull shots sail over the fielder, deep on the legside: on both occasions, the man had been stationed 15 yards in from the rope, to compensate for the ground’s unusually large square boundaries.

The century from Dhawan, his first in his six One-Day Internationals, was notable for the assurance and consistent aggression with which it was made. “Shikhar and I played together for Delhi (Daredevils). I know his game quite well; he’s a very talented individual. He played really well today. He’s got the whole package, and I’m sure he’ll get better as his career goes on,” de Villiers said of him.

Rohit will also emerge from the game with credit. He is not an opener by training, but asked to bat at the top, the Mumbai batsman displayed composure that has, to put it mildly, not been a hallmark of his game.

“It was really nice playing with Rohit,” Dhawan said. “I’m playing for the first time with him as an opener, and it was really good. Our combination really worked for us. Running between the wickets was really good, and our understanding was really good. And Rohit played some brilliant shots.”

India endured a little collapse of its own in the middle of the innings — when it lost four for 50 in 7.3 overs — but Jadeja was on hand to help. His whirlwind 47 made only off 29 balls, helped India tide over that micro-crisis. It was a win well deserved.

THE SCORE Ind v SA, Cardiff, June 6, 2013.

India: Rohit Sharma c Peterson b McLaren 65; S. Dhawan c sub (A. M. Phangiso) b Duminy 114; V. Kohli c Amla b Tsotsobe 31; D. Karthik c A. B. de Villiers b McLaren 14; M. Dhoni c du Plessis b Tsotsobe 27; S. Raina c Duminy b McLaren 9; R. Jadeja (not out) 47; R. Ashwin (run out) 10; B. Kumar (not out) 0; Extras (lb-4, w-8, nb-2) 14. Total (for seven wkts., in 50 overs) 331.

Fall of wickets: 1-127, 2-210, 3-227, 4-240, 5-260, 6-291, 7-323.

South Africa bowling: Morkel 6.5-0-27-0; Tsotsobe 10-0-83-2; Kleinveldt 10-0-81-0; McLaren 10-0-70-3; Peterson 3.1-0-24-0; Duminy 10-0-42-1.

South Africa: H. Amla c Dhoni b Yadav 22; C. Ingram c Raina b Kumar 6; R. Peterson (run out) 68; A. B. de Villiers c Jadeja b Yadav 70; J. P. Duminy lbw b Jadeja 14; F. du Plessis c Raina b Ishant 30; D. Miller (run out) 0; R. McLaren (not out) 71; R. Kleinveldt c Dhoni b Ishant 4; L. Tsotsobe b Jadeja 3; M. Morkel b Kumar 8; Extras (lb-1, w-7, nb-1) 9. Total (in 50 overs) 305.

Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-31, 3-155, 4-182, 5-184, 6-188, 7-238, 8-251.

India bowling: Kumar 7-0-49-2; Yadav 10-0-75-2; Ishant 8-0-66-2; Ashwin 10-0-47-0; Jadeja 9-1-31-2; Raina 6-0-36-0.