x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Dhawan delivers for India as South Africa falter in Champions Trophy opener

World Cup champions shake off recent woes with 26-run victory in a high-scoring game at Cardiff.

The combination of the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan, in blue, along with fellow opener Rohit Sharma worked well as India got off to a winning start in the Champions Trophy in Cardiff. Michael Steele / Getty Images
The combination of the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan, in blue, along with fellow opener Rohit Sharma worked well as India got off to a winning start in the Champions Trophy in Cardiff. Michael Steele / Getty Images

Toss South Africa, chose to field

India 331-7 (Dhawan 114; R Sharma 65, Jadeja 47 n.o; McLaren 3-70)

South Africa 305 (McLaren 71 n.o, De Villiers 70, Peterson 68, Jadeja 2-31, I Sharma 2-66, Yadav 2-66)

Man of the match Shikhar Dhawan (India)

Reigning world champions India got their Champions Trophy campaign off to an ideal start as Shikhar Dhawan's first one-day international century helped them to a 26-run victory over South Africa in Cardiff.

Dhawan's fluent innings of 114 was backed up by contributions from Rohit Sharma (65) and Ravindra Jadeja (47) as India made 331 for seven after being put in by AB de Villiers.

India persisted with Rohit as a makeshift opener and it paid dividends in the form of a solid 127-run partnership in 21 overs that set the tone.

South Africa's reply, in chase of the highest ODI score recorded at Cardiff Wales Stadium, started at a furious pace, but the removals of De Villiers (70) and Robin Peterson (68) effectively ended their hopes.

They were eventually bowled out for 305 off the last ball of the innings, despite Ryan McLaren's brave 71 not out.

The Proteas lost Colin Ingram (six) and Hashim Amla (22) during a frenetic start to their chase, leaving them 31 for two off just 3.5 overs.

Peterson and De Villiers continued in an aggressive fashion and put together a 50 partnership off just 40 balls as South Africa raced to 77 for two from 10 overs.

Peterson, having survived one major scare a few minutes earlier, was run out as Jadeja's agile stop once again caught him way out of his ground with the score on 155, ending the 124-run stand with his skipper.

India captain MS Dhoni's tactic of employing spin from both ends with Jadeja (two for 31) and Ravichandran Ashwin soon stymied the flow of runs.

The pressure told as first JP Duminy (14) went lbw to Jadeja - wasting South Africa's sole review in the process - before De Villiers top-edged an Umesh Yadav bouncer to give Jadeja a simple catch.

David Miller went moments later without facing after combining with Faf du Plessis to produce a farcical run out to make the score 187 for six.

"Spin was needed at that point of time. It worked for us, we got those run outs as well," Dhoni said.

On Rohit's contribution, Dhoni explained the team strategy. "You talk about giving guys consistent chances," he said.

"Last ODI that Rohit played, he did well as an opener. The selectors also backed us up, they said let him play all three games as an opener."

Dhoni, however, rued the fact India lost too many wickets in the middle and could have scored more runs when Dhawan had produced a sparkling century after India were put in to bat.

Rohit was the first wicket to fall in the 22nd over, when Peterson took the catch off the bowling of McLaren (three for 70).

Dhawan continued the scoring rate, hitting a massive six and a lofted four off Lonwabo Tsotsobe, before reaching his 100 off 80 balls.

Tsotsobe picked up his first wicket as Amla caught Virat Kohli (31) on the boundary before Dhawan eventually fell, sub fielder Aaron Phangiso taking a simple chance off Duminy's bowling.

Wickets tumbled late in the innings with four wickets falling for the addition of 50 runs, including two catches that were spooned through top-edges.

"We lost too many wickets during the middle, we were short by at least 25 runs. The boys played with plenty of aggression, but it was controlled," Dhoni added.

De Villiers hailed his counterpart's captaincy but was disappointed with the missed opportunity.

"We got ourselves into a great position to win the game with the bat," he said.

"I am proud of the way we fought back through the day. We were above the run rate, but lost wickets at the wrong times."

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE