One more complete show: Dhoni
Skipper MS Dhoni said it was yet another ‘complete performance’ from his side in the World Cup after the Men in Blue broke their World Cup jinx against South Africa with an emphatic 130-run victory in a Pool B match on Sunday.
Shikhar Dhawan smashed a career-best 137 to propel India to a comfortable 307/1 before the bowlers performed brilliantly to bundle out the Proteas for 177 in 40.2 overs in a rather lopsided contest at the packed Melbourne Cricket Ground. This was India’s maiden World Cup win against South Africa after having lost in 1992, 1999 and 2011.
“I think more than just the result, it was how we played. Back to back performances by both the bowling and batting units. South Africa are a very good side, so it was one more complete performance,” Dhoni said at the post-match media interaction.
With two wins from as many matches, India now have a very good chance of qualifying for the quarterfinal as group leaders. It was yet another commendable show by the Indians, who came into the tournament following a string of poor results in the tri-series.
And Dhoni said what was heartening to see was the team executing its plans on the ground. “What’s happening really well is we are able to execute our plans. I can give fields to the fast bowlers. They are not bowling loose balls. They bowled tight lines and the batsmen had to play big shots to get runs. The amount of effort the fast bowlers are putting in the nets is beginning to show now,” he said.
“They bowled in good areas, and even (Ravindra) Jadeja bowled very well, not just quick and flat, the way he usually bowls,” Dhoni added. The skipper also had words of praise for the team’s ground fielding against South Africa. “I am very pleased with the run-outs. We usually see the oppositions taking on our fast bowlers in the deep. Mohit (Sharma) and Umesh (Yadav) are quite fast and have good arms,” he said.
Dhoni feels it was a good toss to win as the wicket changed a bit under lights, a theory which his counterpart A B de Villiers begged to differ. “We can only speculate how important the toss was. I felt the wicket changed a bit. We were able to swing the ball under lights,” the Indian captain said.
‘Shikhar planned his knock very well’
Hailing opener Shikhar Dhawan’s match-winning century against South Africa, Dhoni said the left-hander played smart by staying at the crease even after getting his hundred. Dhoni liked the manner in which Dhawan, who struck 137 in India’s challenging total of 307, planned his innings.
“On Sunday, he was really batting the way he bats. When he needed to play the big shots, he did play, and he was also rotating the strike. He made sure to be in the crease even after getting to his hundred. It’s important if you get a hundred and you are able to score 130 or 140 runs, you always see the team getting those extra 20 or 25 runs. So it was good on his part to make sure he stays until the end because the general tendency at times is for the openers is to after the 25th over they like to play the big shots. They think their job is over. But I think in these conditions, once you are set you have to make the most of it,” Dhoni said.
The captain also acknowledged Dhawan’s hard work during the training sessions. “He was putting in effort in the net sessions, and as I said, a lot of times people talk about form, but form is something nobody can see like that,” Dhoni said.
Sticking with Dhawan proved right: Shastri
Heaping praise on his players for the emphatic win over South Africa, team director Ravi Shastri on said the management’s decision to stick with Shikhar Dhawan, despite his poor form in the run-up to the showpiece event, proved right on Sunday.
“It was a clinical and professional performance, in batting, bowling and fielding, covering all the departments of the game. It was fabulous,” Shastri said.
“I would say those people who were asking why Shikhar was there in (World Cup) squad, they don’t know their cricket. He committed some mistakes during Test series against Australia. He got the starts but got out due to mistakes. But now against Pakistan and on Sunday, he was fabulous. He did everything right on Sunday, in his approach, shot selection,” said the former India all-rounder.
Rohit Sharma run out (de Villiers) 0, Shikhar Dhawan c Amla b Parnell 137, Virat Kohli c du Plessis b Imran Tahir 46, Ajinkya Rahane lbw b Steyn 79, Suresh Raina c sub (RR Rossouw) b Morkel 6, MS Dhoni c de Kock b Morkel 18, Ravindra Jadeja run out (de Villiers) 2, R Ashwin not out 5, Md Shami not out 4; Extras (lb 2, w 6, nb 2) 10; Total (7 wickets; 50 overs) 307 (RR 6.14); FoW Fall of wickets: 1-9 (Sharma, 2.5 overs), 2-136 (Kohli, 27.1), 3-261 (Dhawan, 43.4), 4-269 (Raina, 44.5), 5-278 (Rahane, 45.6), 6-284 (Jadeja, 47.2), 7-302 (Dhoni, 48.5); Bowling: Dale Steyn 10-1-55-1, Vernon Philander 4-1-19-0, Jean-Paul Duminy 7-0-39-0, Morne Morkel 10-0-59-2, Imran Tahir 10-0-48-1, Wayne Parnell 9-0-85-1
South Africa innings
Hashim Amla c Mohammed Shami b Mohit Sharma 22, Quinton de Kock c Kohli b Mohammed Shami 7, Faf du Plessis c Dhawan b Mohit Sharma 55, AB de Villiers run out (Mohit/Dhoni) 30, David Miller run out (Yadav/Dhoni) 22, JP Duminy c Raina b Ashwin 6, Wayne Parnell not out 17, Vernon Philander lbw b Ashwin 0, Dale Steyn c Dhawan b Mohammed Shami 1, Morne Morkel b Ashwin 2, Imran Tahir lbw b Jadeja 8; Extras (lb 1, w 6) 7; Total (all out in 40.2 overs) 177; FoW 1-12 (de Kock, 3.3 overs), 2-40 (Amla, 10.2), 3-108 (de Villiers, 22.5), 4-133 (du Plessis, 28.1), 5-147 (Duminy, 31.3), 6-153 (Miller, 33.4), 7-153 (Philander, 33.6), 8-158 (Steyn, 36.2), 9-161 (Morkel, 37.2), 10-177 (Imran Tahir, 40.2); Bowling Umesh Yadav 6-0-34-0, Md Shami 8-1-30-2, Mohit Sharma 7-0-31-2, Ravindra Jadeja 8.2-0-37-1, R Ashwin 10-0-41-3, Suresh Raina 1-0-3-0