Rohit Sharma steered India to a 6-wicket victory in their opening match of the 2019 Cricket World Cup after Yuzvendra Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah restricted South Africa to 227 for 9. The Proteas have now lost all their 3 matches so far in the tournament. Rohit remained unbeaten on 122 as India reached the target with 15 balls to spare.
India made a nervous start as they chased a middling target in overcast conditions. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan prodded and poked at deliveries outside the off-stump before Dhawan finally played at a Kagiso Rabada delivery he should have left well alone.
Virat Kohli, the world’s best batsman, was tested by Chris Morris and Rabada. He was no where near his fluent best but Kohli decided to bide his time. However, Kohli perished for 18 when Andile Phehlukwayo found steep bounce and he tried to steer it away – instead all Kohli managed was a thick edge and South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock held on to a sensational catch.
At 54 for 2 in the 16th over with the ball doing a bit and the South African pacers looking dangerous, India were in a spot of bother. Another wicket at that stage could have put the South Africans on top but Rohit Sharma and India’s new No.4 KL Rahul had other ideas.
After another impressive season at the IPL, KL Rahul staked claim to the Indian middle-order for the World Cup with a classic hundred against Bangladesh in a warm-up match. On Wednesday, he was expected to play the supporting cast as Rohit led India’s recovery. Rahul was happy to play second fiddle and the pair added an important 85 for the 3rd wicket.
When Rohit Sharma went past 50 in the 23rd over, the Indian dressing room began to relax a little. He really opened up only after that and put the pressure right back on South Africa. Meanwhile, KL Rahul was beginning to look good with every minute he spent at the crease.
A wonderful innings from Rohit Sharma!
Kagiso Rabada returned to get rid of Rahul for 26 in the 32nd over but by then India had reached 139. Rohit Sharma was now unstoppable and he was joined at the crease by a super cool MS Dhoni.
The experienced duo then took India within touching distance of the target with a 74-run partnership for the fourth wicket before Dhoni departed for 34 off 46 balls.
Earlier in the day, Faf du Plessis decided South Africa would bat after he won the toss. But the Proteas were jolted by a fiery Jasprit Bumrah who removed openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock inside the first 6 overs of the innings. Sporting a new haircut, Bumrah caused the same old problems for batsmen with his pace and movement.
South Africa finish their innings on 227/9 – Chris Morris top scoring with 42.
South Africa were on the road to recovery with skipper Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen adding 54 for the 3rd wicket but Yuzvendra Chahal removed both batsmen in the 20th over. The South African innings was in tatters and they were pegged back further when Kuldeep Yadav snared JP Duminy in the 23rd over.
Phehlukwayo (34) and David Miller (31) played gutsy knocks to steady South Africa but Chahal once again got rid of both well set batsmen as the Proteas slipped to 158 for 7. It was only thanks to an aggressive 42 from Chris Morris and an enterprising 31 not out from Kagiso Rabada that South Africa reached a respectable total.
At the end, the 227 for 9 was not enough only because South Africa had no answer to the genius of Rohit Sharma.