SA crash to third consecutive Cricket World Cup loss against India

Opener Rohit Sharma hit 122 to propel India to a crushing victory over South Africa in a Cricket World Cup match in Southampton in England on June 5 2019.
Opener Rohit Sharma hit 122 to propel India to a crushing victory over South Africa in a Cricket World Cup match in Southampton in England on June 5 2019.
Image: Cricket World Cup/Twitter

Rohit Sharma’s 122 not out sealed a comprehensive victory for India over South Africa in their Cricket World Cup match in Southampton on Wednesday.

South Africa crashed to 89/5 on their way to a sub-par total of 227/9‚ which India passed with six wickets standing and 15 balls to spare.

Chris Morris’ 42 was South Africa’s best effort with the bat. No-one else reached 40.

The result followed losses to England and Bangladesh in their first two games.

Cold shivers would have rattled through South Africa’s dressingroom in what might have been the fateful 13th over‚ when Faf du Plessis took a blow on the bottom hand from Hardik Pandya.

Minutes of medical attention passed before he eased his glove back onto his hand and continued the fight.

By then‚ Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock had been dismissed. To lose the captain into the bargain would have turned South Africa’s not very good campaign from bad to ugly.

Du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen steadied the innings with a stand of 54 that endured into the 20th over‚ when leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed both in the space of six balls.

Van der Dussen lurched too early into a reverse sweep and was bowled. Du Plessis suffered the same fate‚ undone by the pace of a top spinner.

David Miller and Andile Phehlukwayo put 46 runs into the partnership pot before Morris and Kagiso Rabada came up with the highest stand of the innings‚ a sturdy 66 that took South Africa into the last over.

India had bowled to their strengths superbly‚ and to fields at times strewn with three slips and‚ at others‚ harbouring a leg slip. Jasprit Bumrah sniped away relentlessly‚ beating the bat frequently‚ and Chahal took 4/51.

No slow bowler has claimed more wickets for India in a World Cup match‚ and overall only Ashish Nehra‚ Venkatesh Prasad‚ Robin Singh and Kapil Dev - seamers all — have bettered his haul.

South Africa knew they needed to bowl exponentially better than in their first two games if they hoped to defend such a small target.

Imran Tahir took the new ball but‚ unlike against England at the Oval on Thursday‚ when he also did so and bowled Jonny Bairstow with his second delivery‚ there was no early strike.

So‚ after Rabada’s opening burst of six balls‚ Morris came on and bowled his best spell in years‚ moving the ball off the seam at pace and finding the consistency he has lacked.

Morris’ first four overs cost just 10 runs and included a maiden‚ and his next two were also scoreless. Not bad for a bowler who had sent down only five maidens in his previous 35 one-day internationals combined.

Rabada‚ too‚ rekindled the fire that has gone out for much of the past year. His reward was finding Shikhar Dhawan’s edge in his first spell.

But it could have been so different. In Rabada’s first over Dhawan slashed a cut marginally over JP Duminy at point and Sharma blooped another ball behind him — where Du Plessis arrived from second slip just too late to take the catch. Six balls later Sharma sent another screamer‚ off Morris‚ just out of Duminy’s reach.

India might have been 5/3 at that point‚ and Rabada emphasised South Africa’s frustration with the last delivery of the fourth over‚ which splintered the toe of Dhawan’s bat.

Much of the world would have been glued to the battle between Rabada and Kohli in the wake of the South African’s incendiary remarks — at least‚ the reaction to them was incendiary — about the India captain’s inability to handle the kind of aggression he routinely visits on opponents.

Rabada’s first delivery to Kohli was an easily ducked bouncer‚ but they treated each other with respect throughout. It was Phehlukwayo who took the biggest wicket of them all with the help of a wonderful arching leap by De Kock‚ who held a one-handed catch.

But Sharma was entrenched by then‚ and remained so to take India home.

He faced 144 balls and hit 13 fours and two sixes.

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