Everybody was repeating the mantra of ‘English conditions’ before the Champions Trophy, but the first match of the tournament has made a mockery of that. As many as 636 runs were scored in the match and no bowler but spinners prevail. And there are no prizes for guessing that Indians are the winners when it comes to spinners. Continuing the form of the warm-up matches, the Asians never let the Proteas overcome for a moment and sealed a victory by 26 runs.

[caption id="attachment_1352" align="alignright" width="300"]Shikhar Dhawan’s maiden century helped India claim victory in the match (Photo: ICC) Shikhar Dhawan’s maiden century helped India claim victory in the match (Photo: ICC)[/caption]

India’s bowling and fielding shared a due role in the win apart from their batting and the match came as a rude wakening for those who had been ruling out India for the title. The factors that led India to victory in the match, played at Cardiff, were Shikhar Dhawan’s century and a performance by South Africa that lacked strategy and planning. In the absence of Dale Steyn and after the Morne Morkel got injured, South Africa’s bowlers performed sloppily, and the rest was later completed by run-outs. Result: South Africa lost a crucial match of the tournament.

Though South Africa won the toss and decided to bat, given the conditions favouring bowlers – or at least they thought so – Rohit Sharma and Dhawan helped the ‘world’s best bowling line-up’ come back to their senses. South Africa’s pacers were thinking that they would make the most of Indian batsmen’s conventional weakness of facing short-pitched deliveries. But India came well prepared and the Proteas could only take four wickets in first 40 overs.

The greatest part was of the Indian openers and the 127-run partnership in the first 21 overs is a clear proof of that. Sharma – about who a few critics had been raising their eyebrows – lived up to expectations, scoring 65 off 81, including a six and eight fours.

South Africa were already playing without Steyn, and Morkel’s injury added insult to injury. For India it was like making hay while the sun shines, but for the Proteas it was like a sunset. After Sharma’s dismissal, Dhawan and Virat Kohli added another 83 runs to the total. Dhawan completed his century on just 80 balls.

The last powerplay proved costly for India as Dhawan and Dinesh Karthik lost their wickets in trying to make the most of fielding restrictions. It seemed clear at the stage that India were eying a total of around 350, but the continuous loss of wickets barred them from the target. However, they succeeded in making 331, thanks to Dhawan’s 114 off 94 and Ravindra Jadeja’s 47 off 29 in the last moments.

South African bowlers were a sorry sight. Morkel could not deliver seven overs, Lonwabo Tsotsobe gave 83 in 10 overs, Rory Kleinveldt gave 81, Ryan McLaren gave 70 runs. Jean-Paul Duminy was the most economical bowler with 42 runs in 10 overs, taking one wicket apart from McLaren’s three and Tsotsobe’s two.

South Africa suffered a major setback as they started their chase of 332 runs. They lost early wickets just as they did in the warm-up match against Pakistan. On the one hand, Colin Ingram fell victim to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and on the second, an aggressive Hashim Amla was dismissed by Umesh Yadav. With the help of four boundaries, Amla had made 22 off 14 before he departed.

Having lost both openers for just 31, South Africa’s remaining batsmen had to play their part. Captain AB de Villiers joined Robin Peterson who he had sent one down after Amla’s dismissal. The duo added 124 runs in the third wicket, guiding the match into an interesting phase. Peterson scored his career’s maiden half-century on 51 balls. At the time when he was in a position to snatch the match off India’s hands, Jadeja ended his innings with his heroic fielding. Having scored 68 of 72 with the help of six fours, Peterson returned to the pavilion and there started the downfall of South Africa as Indian spinners ruled the remaining game.

[caption id="attachment_1353" align="alignright" width="300"]All-round performance from Jadeja: 47 runs off 29 ball, two wickets, one catch and on run-out (Photo: Getty Images) All-round performance from Jadeja: 47 runs off 29 ball, two wickets, one catch and on run-out (Photo: Getty Images)[/caption]

Duminy lost hi wicket to Jadeja and in the next over the Proteas got another big blow when de Villiers departed in the next over. Half of the team was out for just 184 runs and the match became out of their reach.

South Africa could carve out a victory even at that stage as David Miller and Faf du Plessis had the ability to score 145 runs in 18 overs. But a misunderstanding between the two cost the team. It is a sorry sight to see both batsmen at one end and the opponents’ fielder breaking the wickets. Miller returned to the dressing room without facing a ball.

Then came McLaren. And it goes without saying that the match’s result would have been different had McLaren found a partner or two. He and Plessis were scoring runs from both ends before the latter was dismissed in the last powerplay, making 30 of 23. Now the second end was completely insecure. McLaren did what he could and scored his career’s first half-century. But after Kleinveldt’s dismissal, it was almost impossible to save the match as Morkel could not run because of injury.

South Africa needed 33 runs in the last over and Morkel was bowled in the last ball. The team was all-out on 305 runs with McLaren remaining not-out on 71 off 61.

India’s pacers were no different from their South African counterparts and suffered heavy runs. Kumar, Yadav, Sharma and Jadeja took two wickets apiece.

Dhawan was given man-of-the-match award.

India now top the Group B with two valuable points. The next match of the same group will be played at The Oval between Pakistan and West Indies.

India vs South Africa

Champions Trophy, Match 1

June 6, 2013

Venue: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

Result: India won by 26 runs

Man of the match: Shikhar Dhawan

Rohit Sharmac Peterson b McLaren658181
Shikhar Dhawanc sub (AM Phangiso) b Duminy11494121
Virat Kohlic Amla b Tsotsobe314120
Dinesh Karthikc de Villiers b McLaren141511
MS Dhonic du Plessis b Tsotsobe272630
Suresh Rainac Duminy b McLaren9601
Ravindra Jadejanot out472971
Ravichandran Ashwinrun out (McLaren)101010
Bhuvneshwar Kumarnot out0000
Extras(leg-byes 4, wides 8, no-balls 2)14
Total(7 wickets; 50 overs)331


South Africa (bowling)OversMaidenRunsWickets
Morne Morkel6.50270
Lonwabo Tsotsobe100832
Rory Kleinveldt100810
Ryan McLaren100703
Robin Peterson3.10240
Jean-Paul Duminy100421


جنوبی افریقہTarget: 332 runsRunsBalls4s6s
Hashim Amlac Dhoni b Yadav221540
Colin Ingramc Raina b Kumar6510
Robin Petersonrun out (Jadeja/Dhoni)687260
AB de Villiersc Jadeja b Yadav707170
Jean-Paul Duminylbw b Jadeja142400
Faf du Plessisc Raina b I Sharma302350
David Millerrun out (I Sharma/Raina/Dhoni)0000
Ryan McLarennot out7161111
Rory Kleinveldtc Dhoni b I Sharma4500
Lonwabo Tsotsobeb Jadeja31400
Morne Mokelb Kumar81110
Extras(leg-bye 1, wides 7, no-ball 1)9
Total(all out; 50 overs)305


India (bowling)OversMaidenRunsWickets
Bhuvneshwar Kumar70492
Umesh Yadav100752
Ishant Sharma80662
Ravichandran Ashwin100470
Ravindra Jadeja91312
Suresh Raina60360
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