MELBOURNE: India registered a big 130-run victory over South Africa at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.
Chasing 308 to win, South Africa looked nothing like one of the title favourites as they crumbled to 177 all out in the 41st over in front of a crowd of almost 87,000.
The South African batting lineup virtually collapsed in a bid to chase India’s target. Indian bowlers took wickets at regular intervals, leaving little room for the Proteas to establish big partnerships.
After losing both the openers early, Faf du Plessis and captain AB de Villiers tried to recover the damage but were soon tamed.
With both de Villiers and Plessis gone, none of the rest Proteas batsmen dared to challenge the opposition.
Ravichandaran Ashwin was the man for India, who with his brilliant spin bowling did what was least expected from the Men in Blue before the start of the match.
Ashwin took three wickets, with Mohammed Shami (two), Mohit Sharma (two) and Ravindra Jadeja (one) providing in their support from the other end.
During India’s innings, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan scored a sparkling century to frustrate South Africa’s vaunted pace attack.
At a stadium festooned with India flags and heaving with blue-clad supporters, Melbourne resident Dhawan’s 137 anchored century partnerships with Virat Kohli (46) and Ajinkya Rahane (79) as AB de Villiers’ men toiled on a steamy day in the field.
In a big blow for the Proteas, seamer Vernon Philander spent time off the field with an apparent hamstring injury and bowled just four overs.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and had little hesitation sending his team in to bat on a drop-in wicket that offered little succour for the South Africa pacemen.
With the icy gaze and slicked-back hair of a James Bond villain, Dale Steyn did his best to soften up India’s openers and his second over brought the wicket of Rohit Sharma.
In a horrible mix-up with Dhawan, Rohit was a foot from his ground when De Villiers threw down the stumps in an inspired piece of fielding, the opener sent back stumbling at the non-striker’s end by his hesitant team mate.