Men in Blue overturn history and march over the Green carpet
The heavyweights of Group B came into the match looking for a confidence-boosting victory. The picturesque and the largest outfield of Melbourne cricket ground was in readiness to host the game. It is not easy to knock off the runs in the death overs and both teams were aware of the fact that they had to score runs at a steady and decent rate throughout the innings to avoid the mishap of falling short of runs.
Steyn had recovered in time to perform new ball duties. The Indian team was a bit settled after a brilliant all round game against Pakistan exactly a week ago. The fact that India had never won against the Proteas in the World Cup would have been an additional burden on the Men in Blue.
Important toss to win
MCG is conducive for pace under lights as the ball zips through as the game goes on. South Africans had a well thought out plan when they replaced Farhan Behardien with fast bowler Wayne Parnell, who is decent enough with the bat. India went into the game with an unchanged side that won against Pakistan. Having won the toss, MS obviously chose to bat first.
There is no better way to put oppositions under pressure than putting runs on board. With Dhawan showing glimpses of form, the onus was on the Indian batters to make it large against Steyn & co. 280 is the average 1st innings score at the MCG.
Steyn makes early breakthrough
Steyn started off with a perfect maiden over and then teased Rohit to make him nick the last ball. India began shambolically after being reduced to 9-1 after 2.5 overs. De Villiers reminded the world which the best fielding unit in world cricket is.
Kohli was slow to start like Dhawan but both were batting with ease and rotating strike at will. Dhawan was at his best with elegant cover drives, cuts and flicks. Dhawan reached his second consecutive 50 in the 18th over with an exclusive cut shot off Parnell. The injury to Philander didn't help the cause of the South Africans as they had to turn to Duminy, who had an off day with the ball.
The Delhi-duo batted with ease and were unperturbed by the run rate at which they were scoring. Amla dropped Shikar when he was on 53 at point off Parnell, which eventually proved to be a very costly miss. Kohli's struggle to put away the long hoppers continued when he got out off Tahir for a well-made 46 with India at 136 after 27 overs.
Rahane plays uncharacteristic role
Enter Rahane; No one would have imagined him to be the aggressor. Attacking right from the outset Rahane helped out Dhawan who had slowed down in the middle. India started to score at a better rate after they crossed the 100 run mark in the 23rd over to knock off 150 by the 31st over. Dhawan showed some nerves when unbeaten on 99, but completed his turnaround with a well-constructed century.
The power play began on the right note with Rahane knocking 12 runs off Duminy. India did well to score 44 runs for no loss in overs 36 to 40. The stage was set for a strong finish. India scored 80 runs of the last 10 overs. Dhawan scored 37 off 24 after his ton and fell to a Parnell bouncer trying to score some quick runs.
Raina couldn't continue his good form and fell for 6, Rahane (79) followed off Steyn’s bowling after a belting a 6 off the previous ball. Couple of boundaries from Dhoni ensured that Indians crossed the 300 run mark, thanks largely to an out of form Parnell who gave away 85 of 9 overs.
Lively start from Indian fast bowlers
Indian bowlers bowled at a lively pace to start with, just like they did against the Pakistani batters. Picking the wickets of Amla and De Kock would have been the top ask from MS for the bowlers as they have been the thorns in the most recent outings. Dhoni shuffled Shami with Mohit, courtesy a minor injury scare to Shami.
Du Plessis and Amla were trying to settle down before launching the assault on the Indians and Amla survived a run out scare towards the end of 9th over. It certainly looked like India returned the favor to Amla, after Amla had dropped Dhawan earlier in the game. A short ball from Mohit Sharma fetched the wicket of Amla who mistimed the pull shot.
Pressure was building to raise the scoring rate and the Proteas batsmen steadily started to score runs easily of Jadeja, Yadav and Mohit. Ashwin was introduced in an attempt to contain but was taken off after a 10-run over. AB and Faf were just starting to look in control.
Mohit Sharma’s throw takes out AB
but as luck would have it Mohit was involved in dismissing another huge wicket when his throw took out AB. In an attempt to sneak an extra run, South Africans were reduced to 108/3 after 23 overs. Miller joined Faf and started to bat with ease rotating the strike. Dhoni brought back Mohit for a short spell after Faf had reached his 13th ODI fifty. Mohit claimed Faf and the Proteas had lost their top four for 133 at the end of 29 overs.
Duminy and Miller were left at the crease as the last recognized batting pair to take Proteas to the shores of victory. They had done it against Zimbabwe batting first but under the lights chasing a huge score, there was always pressure building up to chase down 307.
Ashwin and Shami clean up Proteas tail
Duminy tried a lavish reverse sweep against Ashwin only to succumb to the spinner’s guile. Miller fell centimeters short to become the 4th run out scalp of the day. With all the recognized batsman out in the hut, it was just a matter of time before the Indians inflicted defeat on the Proteas. Ashwin and Shami combined to clean up the tail. Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 41, but Shami and Mohit with 2 wickets each were equally brilliant.
Once again the score board pressure and some decent bowling from the pacers at the beginning set up the victory for the Indians. They march ahead undefeated in the WC 2015. The emergence of Shikar Dhawan after a horrendous tour down under has to be the highlight thus far for the Indian camp. Rahane showed he can play the role of an aggressor as well as an anchor.
Finally the score line between India and SA at the world cups reads 1-3. The 'MOUKA' to inflict a defeat was not thrown away and the crackers were burst with a lot of joy and pride. The Men in Blue march ahead in their title defence with a victory against South Africa by 130 runs. Dhawan was a deserving winner of Man of the match. Indians were brilliant in all departments yet again to score off a brilliant victory.