India: 331/7 (Dhawan 114, Rohit Sharma 65, Jadeja 47*, McLaren 3/70, Duminy 1/42, Tsotsobe 2/83) beat South Africa 305 (McLaren 71*, De Villiers 70, Peterson 68, Jadeja 2/31, Buvneshwar Kumar 2/49) by 26 runs
Khanyiso Tshwaku at the Swalec Stadium, Cardiff
South Africa have never beaten India in the Champions Trophy and they were not about to come close as some deer-in-the-headlights running and thoughtless cricket all round contributed to their demise.
Targets above 300 require teams to have batsmen who bat through the innings, but none of the South African batsmen had the temperament or the mettle to see it through.
The ICC Groundhog Day is repeating itself.
The target looked steep, but India’s tame bowling attack did not have the requisite firepower. It was always going to be a battle of wills.
South Africa has hardly ever conquered teams mentally and those frailties manifested themselves in different, yet similar, ways.
Ryan McLaren’s lost cause should have been a match-winning effort if South Africa had wickets in hand.
Two senseless runouts orchestrated by AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis robbed South Africa of whatever momentum they were building.
At 184/5, the game was still winnable until David Miller’s crazy runout.
By the time Du Plessis holed out to Suresh Raina off Ishant Sharma, the game was as good as gone.
On winning the toss in overcast conditions, the last thing De Villiers would have wanted from his bowlers is to serve up pies with coffee in the cold Cardiff morning.
South Africa’s wolf pack did exactly that in a session of mayhem. India’s new opening partnership of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma made hay as the sun started to come out.
In his reincarnation, Sharma crafted a lovely 81-ball innings of 65, studded with eight boundaries and one six.
It provided the perfect slipstream for Dhawan, who chose the agricultural route. It worked out for him as he scripted an epic 80-ball maiden ODI century.
The lack of straight boundaries showed up South Africa’s lack of full deliveries.
On as flat a track as can be found in the British Isles, the best opportunity for a wicket lay in using the overcast conditions to the maximum.
In fielding first and playing four seamers, South Africa gave themselves the best opportunity in which to exploit them.
Instead, they fed India a diet of half-trackers and long hops.
India did not waste the buffet, motoring at five to the over, which they increased to six later.
Their second 50 was sourced from only 39 balls.
It took a bad ball to get rid of Sharma, who shovelled a short one down Robin Peterson’s throat at deep square leg.
Instead of going into his shell, Dhawan opened up, with his best shot being a straight driven six off Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
He had two lives, with Morné Morkel, who limped off with a quad muscle strain, misjudging a hook shot and De Villiers fluffing a stumping when the southpaw was on 102.
He did not make the most of his second bit of luck, and his team-mates soon fell in quick succession.
It was left to captain MS Dhoni to finish what the openers started, contributing a sparkling 27 while the tall total seemed to get into his team-mates’ heads.
It got to his head too, eventually, as South Africa reeled him, and the rest of the team, in.
A good start had been squandered.
It is a pity South Africa were feeble enough to let their slim chance slip.
Powered by WPeMatico