Melbourne: Riding on another strong batting display powered by Shikhar Dhawan’s strokeful century, India on Sunday crushed South Africa by a massive 130 runs to beat them for the first time in World Cup cricket.
India now appear set for a berth in the quarterfinals after their two comprehensive wins over Pakistan and South Africa which places them on top of Group B. They have yet to play the only other team of substance, the West Indies, with the remainder of the group being made up of Ireland, Zimbabwe and UAE.
Dhawan’s career-best 137 propelled India to a comfortable 307 for seven today before the bowlers performed brilliantly to bundle out the Proteas for 177 in 40.2 overs in what turned out to be a rather lopsided contest at the packed Melbourne Cricket Ground.
This was India’s maiden World Cup win against South Africa after having lost the clashes in 1992, 1999 and 2011.
With two wins from as many matches, India now have a very good chance of qualifying for the quarterfinals as group leaders. It was yet another commendable show by the Indians, who came into the tournament with a string of poor results in the tri-series preceding the mega-event.
Mohit Sharma (2/31 in 7 overs), Ravichandran Ashwin (3/41 in 10 overs) and Mohammed Shami (2/30 in 8 overs) kept the opposition batsmen under tight leash for better part of the innings.
The bowling unit fired in unison as South Africa never recovered once skipper AB de Villiers (30) fell short of his crease with Mohit’s accurate throw on top of the stumps sending the destructive player back in the pavilion.
De Villiers and Du Plessis were going strong at one stage adding 68 runs for the third wicket as South Africa reached 108 for two before the skipper got run-out.
Du Plessis (55) tried his best to stem the rot but once he mistimed a pull-shot off Mohit to Dhawan at covers, it was just a mere formality for the ‘Men In Blue’, who hardly put a foot wrong in front of the 86,786 crowd of which at least 75,000 were Indian supporters.
With Sachin Tendulkar cheering them from the stands, it was an electric atmosphere at the MCG as Dhoni’s men cantered home in style. The Indian dressing room erupted in joy and the players hugged each other after last man standing Imran Tahir was trapped LBW by Ravindra Jadeja.
Brief scores: India 307/7 in 50 overs (S Dhawan 137, A Rahane 79, V Kohli 46; M Morkel 2/59) beat South Africa 177 (F du Plessis 55; R Ashwin 3/36, M Shami 2/30, M Sharma 2/31) by 130 runs
Man of the Match: Shikhar Dhawan