Southampton: India defeated South Africa by six wickets in their first match of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup at Southampton on Wednesday.
Chasing a target of 228, India lost their opener Shikhar Dhawan (8) pretty early as he was sent back to the pavilion by Kagiso Rabada. After Dhawan's dismissal, skipper Virat Kohli tried to put runs on the board with the help of Rohit Sharma.
But this pair could not stay for long on the crease as Virat (18) was caught by wicketkeeper Quinton De Kock off Phehlukwayo's delivery, following which the onus fell on Rohit and KL Rahul to stabilise the Indian innings.
Rohit and Rahul stitched a partnership of 85 runs for the third wicket, which made sure the Men in Blue do not witness any more hiccups in the chase. Rabada provided the much-needed breakthrough for Proteas by taking Rahul's wicket.
While Rahul departed after scoring 26 runs, Rohit held the other end and was seen attacking bowlers. MS Dhoni joined Rohit in the middle after Rahul's departure.
Rohit scored his century, but the pair was stopped by Chris Morris who took Dhoni's wicket (34). Rohit and Dhoni added 74 runs for the fourth wicket. It was ultimately Hardik Pandya and Rohit who took the Indian side over the line by six wickets. Pandya was unbeaten at 15 and Rohit at 122.
Earlier, the Men in Blue were invited to bowl first and showcased magnificent game of cricket. India's top spinner Yuzvendra Chahal was on fire and derailed South Africa's batting order by getting four wickets in his ten over spell.
The South African openers could not stay firm in front of the Indian pace attack as Jasprit Bumrah's terrific bowling led to the early dismissal of Hashim Amla (6) and Quinton de Kock (10).
Playing under pressure, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen tried to put runs on the board and stitched a partnership of 54 runs for the third-wicket. However, Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav did not let South African batsmen put runs on the scoreboard with their exemplary bowling.
Chahal dismissed du Plessis (38) and van der Dussen (22), while Jean-Paul Duminy (3) was sent back to the pavilion by Kuldeep, leaving South Africa at 89/5 in 22.6 overs. The partnership between David Miller and Andile Phehlukwayo was in the build-up, but Chahal got another breakthrough as the spinner sent Miller back to the pavilion for 31 and broke the 46-run stand for the sixth wicket.
The fourth wicket for Chahal came in the form of Phehlukwayo's wicket (34), thanks to the heroics of former skipper MS Dhoni behind the stumps. For South Africa, Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris took the responsibility and put important runs for the team.
However, the partnership did not last long owing to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was looking for a wicket since the start of the game. Kumar sent Morris (42) and Imran Tahir (0) back to the dressing room in the final over.
For South Africa, Morris was the highest run-getter with 42 runs and du Plessis contributed with 38 runs. India's Chahal was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah scalped two wickets each.
India will play against Australia on June 9 while South Africa will next face West Indies on June 10.
Brief scores: India 230/4 (Rohit Sharma 122*, MS Dhoni 34, Rabada 2-39) beat South Africa 227/9 (Chris Morris 42, Faf du Plessis 38, Yuzvendra Chahal 4-51) by six wickets.