World Cup 2019: Rohit Sharma takes down first target after Yuzvendra Chahal setup
Rohit Sharma's assured ton consigns South Africa to third straight defeat and, combined with Yuzvendra Chahal's 4 for 51, gives India winning start to campaign
T20 cricket or the ODI format, Rohit Sharma can't stop being in the spotlight. The victorious IPL 2019-winning Mumbai Indians skipper yesterday worked his way to a century against South Africa that kicked off India's World Cup campaign on a winning note here.
Playing true to potential, like a supremely skilled craftsmen, Rohit took away the little hope SA had of preventing their third loss in a row. Proteas could manage only 227 for nine in 50 overs, thanks to an all-round show by the bowlers. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took two wickets each, and Yuzvendra Chahal took four. In India's reply, although South Africa got rid of opener Shikhar Dhawan (8) early as well as Virat Kohli (18) and KL Rahul (26), the dream of conquering this tight Indian outfit was far-fetched. MS Dhoni scored 34.
India skipper Virat Kohli hailed Rohit Sharma's unbeaten 122 as his best ODI knock after the opener set up the team's six-wicket win over South Africa here yesterday. "This is by far Rohit's best ODI innings because of the kind of pressure, from the World Cup point of view. He went about his batting in a calm manner. Generally, most batsmen try to hit their way out of a situation, but Rohit showed a lot of maturity and it is something which we expect from him.
"This knock for me is at the top of the pile," Kohli said at the post-match press conference here. The India captain particularly praised the manner in which Rohit constructed his innings. "The way Rohit compiled his innings, it never looked like he would throw it away. He played the perfect innings in a situation under the kind of attack and pitch that was on offer," added Kohli.
After restricting South Africa to 227-9, the Indian batsmen were expected to steamroll their opponents but it wasn't as straight forward initially as a determined South African attack led by Kagiso Rabada took the game deep. Rohit, however, was as watchful as ever and ensured the Rabada storm passed away without doing much damage. Rohit's 122 was a mature knock. He didn't take any unnecessary risks and instead delighted the Indian fans with some crisp timing and elegant shots. Only once was he foxed — by Rabada when he surprised him with a short ball which David Miller dropped at cover.
Yuzvendra Chahal's 4-51 and Jasprit Bumrah's 2-35 were also crucial for India. And Kohli claimed Chahal's two wickets in an over (he dismissed Rassie van der Dussen and Faf du Plessis) was the game-changing moment. "The last time we played them [in an ODI series last year], we knew they struggled to get going against our spinners. They were trying to hit boundaries and get away from the situation. Kuldeep Yadav controlled things well from the other end, but Chahal was outstanding. Those two wickets in an over was game-changing," said Kohli.
The South Africans meanwhile, admitted they were short of runs on the board. When asked what South Africa must do to win a game, Chris Morris replied: "Score more runs."
"We had our chances today. India would have been 14-3 if maybe a bit of luck went our way. The guys in the team are some of the best in the world. They need to put their hands up and do it," Morris added.
No. of international tons Rohit Sharma has after Wednesday
Yuzvendra Chahal's returns in his 10 overs
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