Bumrah’s upper lip curled several times in his first over on World Cup debut. He had Quinton de Kock on his toes. looking like a cardboard cut-out. Everything past the edge and each time, the bowler just smiles. Each time, all he did was a smirk. the wicket was around the corner, except it was Hashim Amla who fell, caught at first slip, off the first ball he faced from Bumrah. Then soon De Kock fell giving a catch to Virat at third slip, Du Plessis walked in with four catchers behind him.
Yuzvendra Chahal Broke the back of South Africa’s innings with four big wickets, including two in an over. and Kuldeep Yadav worked in tandem. From 78 for 2, it was quickly 89 for 5 as the revolutions those two put on the ball produced dip, drift and sheer magic. Phehlukwayo and Miller steadying the ship a bit, it was important for South Africa.
India has been fairly dominant throughout the day. The only passage when it looked like South Africa would make a match of this was Rabada spell to trouble top three. Rohit Sharma played his part in steering the innings home without any late hiccups. there were vital contributions from KLand MS Dhoni as he spent some time, had a good knock before Hardik came, saw and whacked three boundaries to seal the deal. That said, India’s best performer on the night to me
Kohli, India captain: The wait was very long and then you get a game like this where it was challenging throughout. From our point of view, it was important to start on the right note. We might not have had the run rate, but if you look at how the game went and how the pitch behaved, it was challenging. Hats off to Rohit, his innings was special. And also the guys who batted around him. I would say it’s a professional win. We were going to bowl first. They were coming off two losses, so you have to make sure you get the first 15 overs right. Jasprit is operating at a different level, to be honest. The way he’s bowling, the batsmen feel the pressure all the time. Not the other way round. Chahal was outstanding as well. There’s one thing to see a bowler bowl, but to catch that ball, to feel the heaviness of it. When I caught it, for 15 minutes my hands were buzzing. He’s not giving any freebies. With the new ball, he was absolutely outstanding. Haven’t seen Amla get out like that in one-day cricket. Even Quinny, he rushed him for pace.
The first win is always important. On the field, we were confident as a group. With the bat, we had to work our way through because of the attack they have. That’s where Rohit’s innings was very very special. You need experienced guys to stand up. One of the top three getting a hundred is something we bank on. KL batted really well with him. Then MS showed great composure. Hardik finished well too. He looks in a good headspace. One thing to say we’re a strong team on paper, but it’s another to be professional about the win in all three aspects.
Faf du Plessis, South Africa captain: I thought India was magnificent on a tough pitch. They bowled really well. Their bowling attack is strong – all bases covered. Fast bowlers initially and spinners who get wickets in the middle overs. We clawed back with the bat again after the spinners bowled in the middle overs. We started well with the ball again, but some great batting by Rohit, a bit of luck, but he did what we didn’t do – got a hundred, and saw the innings through. Two things: The build-up to the match, the info said, a lot of runs were scored, and the make-up of our team, with the fast-bowling resources gone, we went with spin. If we had Steyn and Ngidi, we would have the chance to attack with overcast conditions. Rabada was an absolute champion – he was extremely unlucky, and I have never seen so many balls falling in different areas. That’s how it goes when you aren’t playing well. Little 50-50 things tend to go against you.
Morris who hasn’t played too much recently for us, was excellent today, bowling with pace and good control and even got 40-odd runs today. They were the two stand-out performers today – Morris and Rabada. The change-room is hurting; the guys are a little down. But we are still fighting. We are making mistakes all the time – today the mistake was one guy not batting through the innings. That’s what you need in England. You have to set a good total for your bowlers to defend and to have so many 30s and 40s is not acceptable at a World Cup. We need six wins from six now to make it up.
Rohit Sharma, Man of the Match: Different experience from India. There was something in it for the bowlers throughout the game, so you had to play out the overs initially and see what the ball was doing. Couldn’t play my natural game. You have to take your time. Certain shots that I like playing, I had to cut out and play close to the body, and follow the basics properly – try and leave as many balls as possible on a pitch that is doing a bit. Building partnerships were key in this chase. It was a small total, but since there was something in it for the bowlers, it was tough and we needed partnerships. It’s the batsmen’s job to get the job done, whoever is out in the middle. We can’t rely on one or two individuals all the time. That’s been the hallmark of this team over the last two years – someone always puts their hand up and takes the responsibility to take the team across the line. I hope at some stage someone will put their hand up and take that challenge. That’s the beauty of playing in England – we are playing a little early. We play in July/August, but this is June. The weather has been good, and overcast, so you don’t sweat too much like in India. It wasn’t a typical Rohit Sharma innings, but I had to play out the overs initially to make sure that the job is done.
South Africa – ravaged by lack of form and injury – tried hard with the ball, but were always playing catch-up after their batsmen had disappointed once more. It’s their third defeat on the bounce in this tournament now, and given how their morale has sunk – evidenced by some shockers in the field today – their outlook is rather grim.