India down Proteas in Champs Trophy

7 June 2013

South Africa stumbled out of the blocks in the opening match of the ICC Champions Trophy, losing to India by 26 runs in a Group B clash in Cardiff on Thursday.

On a pitch that favoured the spin of India’s bowling attack more than the pace of the Proteas, AB de Villiers and company made a valiant attempt to chase down and pass India’s challenging 331 for 7, but came up short as two run-outs undermined their run chase.

De Villiers commented after the contest: “We got ourselves into a great position to win the game with the bat. I am proud of the way we fought back through the day from some unfortunate instances, but we lost too many wickets.

‘Amazing effort’

“[It was an] amazing effort to keep them to 330, about par [for the wicket]. We were above the run rate, but lost wickets at the wrong times.”

He also praised the captaincy of Indian captain MS Dhoni and acknowledged that the two run-outs cost the Proteas dearly.

Dhoni lauded the work of India’s openers, Shikar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. Dhawan was named man of the match after a career-best innings of 114 off only 94 balls, while Sharma weighed in with 65 off 81 deliveries as they put on 127 in just over 21 overs for the first wicket.

Spin

Dhoni said spin worked for the Indian bowlers and also acknowledged the role the two South African run-outs played in the outcome of the match.

The match began with De Villiers winning the toss and sending India in to bat. That decision backfired badly as South Africa’s bowling attack, minus Dale Steyn, who was ruled out of the game with a side strain, failed to fire.

To compound matters, Morne Morkel, the best of the bowlers on the day, injured a quad muscle in his seventh over and had to leave the field.

Assessing Morkel’s absence in the big picture, it means the Proteas are without their two best fast bowlers and that, along with the absences of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, has robbed the team of some outstanding talent.

Having started so well, India failed to take full advantage of their excellent start, although Ravindra Jadeja did his bit with an unbeaten 47 off just 29 balls late in the innings.

Bowling struggles

They finished with 331 for 7, which meant not many of the South African bowlers had decent looking figures. JP Duminy was tidy, conceding only 42 runs in 10 overs. Ryan McLaren went for 70 runs in his 10, but he also dismissed three of the top six batsmen. Lonwabo Tsotsobe, with 2 for 83, and Rory Kleinveldt, with 0 for 81, struggled.

In reply to India’s challenging total, South Africa stumbled out of the blocks as Colin Ingram fell for six with the total on 13.

Hashim Amla then struck four fours in 15 balls before losing his wicket for 22 with the Proteas on 31 in the fourth over.

Wonderful stand

Robin Peterson, inserted up the order at number three, and AB de Villiers combined for 124 runs in a wonderful stand punctuated by superb shot-making before Peterson was run out for a fluent 68 off 72 balls. Just before his departure, South Africa was sitting pretty on 155 for 2, just less than halfway through their 50 overs.

The loss of Peterson was followed by a loss of momentum and middle order wickets as the men in green and gold slid to 188 for 6 with the departure of David Miller. He had starred in the recently completed Indian Premier League on pitches similar to the one at Sophia Gardens but was run out for a duck without facing a ball in a horrible mix-up with Faf du Plessis.

When Du Plessis fell for 30 off 23 balls, the Proteas were in deep trouble on 238 for 7 in the 38th over.

Both Kleinveldt and Tsotsobe fell cheaply to leave India on the doorstep of victory, with South Africa on 257 for 9 in the 43rd over.

Defiant

A defiant last wicket stand of 48 between McLaren, who finished as South Africa’s top scorer with 71 not out, and the injured Morkel lent some respectability to the result, but in the end India secured a comfortable 26-run victory.

The loss leaves South Africa on the back foot with further Group B games to come against Pakistan at Edgbaston on Monday, 10 June, and against the West Indies on Friday, 14 June, back at Sophia Gardens. They will likely have to win both to advance to the semi-finals.

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