South Africa choke again; India enter Semis in Champions Trophy 2017
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South Africa choke again; India enter Semis in Champions Trophy 2017

 

South Africa choke again; India enter Semis in Champions Trophy 2017

Published on :11 Jun,2017

Sponsored by : Nexa Peaks Auto




London:
Not often have South Africa turned up well in a Now or Never clash of an ICC tournament, with that fateful 18th anniversary of the 1999 World Cup semifinal having just gone by. While innumerable editorial desks strived hard to steer clear of the 'C' word, South Africa themselves failed to stay away from it. In the winner takes it all battle, India put behind their gloom of the defeat against Sri Lanka and emerged as a complete contrast of their droopy self. The bowling that had let the defending champions down not long back were out to prove a point early, beginning and finishing the day on a high. As India turned out to chase just 192, Shikhar Dhawan took his liking to England and Champions Trophy to yet another level, and together with his skipper Virat Kohli, who looked a mere shadow of himself, took India comfortably into the semifinal. Riding on a 128-run second-wicket stand, India won the game by eight wickets to gain much needed momentum ahead of the original round of knockouts.

192 would have never presented itself as a major hurdle, especially for an Indian side which had posted 319 and 321 in their previous two outings. Rohit Sharma and Dhawan, who established themselves as the ODI opening pair they are now, in the 2013 edition of the Champions Trophy, got into the act early. While Sharma pulled out his languid best to push-drive Kagiso Rabada first for four and then pulled him for a towering six, Dhawan employed a fierce pick-up shot to send one for a maximum over the on-side field before Andile Phehlukwayo misfielded at fine leg to let through a four.

However, as the events panned out, Rohit played an ugly heave to get dismissed off Morne Morkel, for the fourth time in ODIs. As the whole world went gaga over the friendship of AB de Villiers and Kohli, the former showed greater learning of his friend by employing a tactically brilliant field and an inch-perfect gameplan to his bowlers. Not only did Rabada stifle Kohli with a tight line and length, but also took out his favored dab down to third man that fetches him umpteen singles at the start of his innings.

Kohli was tottering at 8 off 23 when he pulled one instinctively towards fine leg where Morne Morkel came running in, only to find the ball land short. But, like against Pakistan, Kohli almost seemed to redeem himself with one confident shot. Against arch-rivals, he took on Hasan Ali in the 45th over with a ferocious swat over his head to score 30 off the last 10 balls he faced. Playing a different yet in many ways, a similar game-changing shot off Phehlukwayo, Kohli dispatched the bowler over his head for a serene six. The shot also prompted the yesteryear great Ricky Ponting to gush out, "Sometimes what distinguishes the great from the not so great is the courage to back yourself under pressure."

Although the skipper grew in confidence with the forward strides looking more emphatic, runs still came in a trickle. Much like a successful pair would ideally operate, Dhawan from the other end, hit legspinner Imran Tahir for two fours in the same over to keep the scorecard moving well. Kohli went after Morkel by picking him for two boundaries in one over, twice.

Dhawan registered his third consecutive fifty of the campaign and his flow brushed onto his captain who posted his 41st in no time. Just as the Champions Trophy monster looked to finish things off in a haste, he miscued Tahir in the 31st over to be dismissed for a stocky 78.

With 41 left to be scored, Yuvraj walked in to join Kohli, and without further damage, India cruised home in a canter. The defending champions stamped their final spurts of dominance with a mighty Yuvraj six over mid-wicket to seal an eight-wicket win.

Earlier in the virtual quarterfinal clash, the South African opening duo of Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla was tied down by some army-like disciplined bowling from the Indian pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. The Indian skipper resorted to conservatism at the toss when he chose to bowl, an immediate effect of the loss at the hands of Sri Lanka in the previous game. The other evidence of it was when Ravichandran Ashwin was drafted in at the expense of Umesh Yadav in the eleven.

Although South Africa didn't score freely in the mandatory powerplay, the opening batsmen ensured there were no early wickets lost. There were a couple of early chances in the day, but Kohli missed the target from mid off on two occasions, with Amla once on 2 and de Kock on 28. While Hardik Pandya put down a straightforward chance off his own bowling with Amla on 16, Ashwin, playing his first game of the tournament, set up the South Africa talisman with a flighted delivery followed by a well disguised quicker one that took the edge of Amla to send him back. De Kock notched up another fifty against India but was packed off soon after when he missed a sweep off Ravindra Jadeja.

South Africa went on to lose three wickets for just 19 runs, two of which were run-outs in the form of AB de Villiers and David Miller. Faf du Plessis's wicket spelled doom as South Africa failed to recover thereafter. Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar bagged two wickets apiece in their return spells to perform the final rites in the South African innings as they were bottled up for just 191 in under 45 overs.

Brief Scores: South Africa 191 in 44.3 overs (Quinton de Kock 53, Faf du Plessis 36; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2-23, Jasprit Bumrah 2-28) lost to India 193/2 in 38 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 78, Virat Kohli 76*; Imran Tahir 1-37, Morne Morkel 1-38) by eight wickets.





Rayat Bahra University, Mohali