February 23, 2015 3:57:52 am
Shikhar Dhawan was undoubtedly the hero of India’s emphatic win over South Africa. But it wouldn’t have been possible without a solid support cast. Here are the five things that clicked for India on Sunday:(Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)
1. Virat Kohli
Under the radar
He may not have scored a flamboyant hundred but Virat Kohli’s modest knock of 46 was as crucial as his previous innings against Pakistan. Kohli came in at a delicate time — India had lost an early wicket of Rohit Sharma and the ball was doing its bit. But like in the last match, Kohli showed restraint. Twice he was beaten off a delivery that was leaving him from back of a length. He batted with confidence and helped India survive the tricky phase.
2. Ajinkya Rahane
Jinks breaks shackles
After Kohli’s dismissal, MS Dhoni gambled by sending Ajinkya Rahane ahead of Suresh Raina to keep the left-hand right-hand combination going. And what a masterstroke that proved to be! Rahane isn’t a powerful striker of the ball but he hits it cleanly. South Africa looked unprepared for Rahane’s assault. He dominated the third-wicket partnership of 129 by playing a blazing innings, taking Steyn & Co to the cleaners. His knock took pressure off Dhawan, while maintaining a healthy run rate.
3. The bowling
No letting up
Seldom has India’s bowling unit looked so cohesive and consistent in the recent past. Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma made the most of the surface that became livelier under lights. They bowled aggressively, hurrying the batsmen with pace and bounce. The loose balls were conspicuously absent, smothering the fierce South African batting line-up. R Ashwin came back well after a poor opening spell while Ravindra Jadeja too was effective by bowling slower through the air.
4. The fielding
The athleticism and accuracy shown by Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav — not the quickest runners — from the deep resulted in the run outs of AB de Villiers and David Miller, respectively. The partnership between de Villiers and Faf du Plessis kept South Africa in the hunt but the run out changed the game completely. Shami too contributed, taking a brilliant catch at long leg to dismiss Amla. It was an aspect that pleased Dhoni the most, as he later admitted. As much as Dhawan’s century, fielding and bowling were the areas that proved decisive.
5. The MCG
The sea inside
The MCG resembled the Wankhede — only much bigger and surreal — on Sunday as a crowd of almost 87,000, comprising of 80 percent Indians, filled what is the biggest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere. Safe to say, it acted as the extra man, while South Africa were effectively down by one (the injured Vernon Philander). The official attendance was 86,876 – 2,000 more than the turn out witnessed for the opening match of the tournament between Australia and England on February 14.
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