On Day 7 of the 2019 ICC World Cup, Virat Kohli’s Indian team finally opened their campaign, beating Faf du Plessis’s South Africa by 6 wickets at Southampton.
Rohit Sharma made the most of an early reprieve to post an unbeaten 122 and guide India past the finish line against an injury-depleted South Africa, when tight bowling dominated a low-scoring group game at the Rose Bowl.
Sharma’s let off came in the second over — Kagiso Rabada’s first — when he fended at a short ball which brushed his glove and carried to second slip, but South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis wasn’t able to grab it.
He recovered steadily and carried his bat, reaching 100 from 128 balls, as India surpassed the victory target of 228 with 15 balls to spare, consigning South Africa to a third straight defeat.
The world’s No. 1-ranked paceman Jasprit Bumrah didn’t waste time getting things going when he dismissed both openers to have South Africa struggling at 24-2.
After Bumrah took the first two wickets by generating good pace and significant seam movement, wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal snared 4-51, starting with a pair in the 20th over that finished with the key wicket of du Plessis for 38.
Rabada bowled with pace and aggression early and, after missing out on Sharma’s wicket, had Shikhar Dhawan (8) caught behind with the total at 13.
He then greeted India skipper Virat Kohli with a bumper and had figures of 1-3 after three overs, before Sharma hit him out of the attack with a six and two boundaries in his following over.
Rabada came back to have KL Rahul (26) caught by du Plessis and returned 2-39 from 10 overs. He should have finally had Sharma’s wicket in his ninth over, but David Miller dropped a sitter at cover when the Indian opener was 107 in a missed opportunity that summed up South Africa’s day.
Chris Morris got a consolation wicket late, tumbling over the stumps at the non-striker’s end when he took a skied, return catch to dismiss MS Dhoni (34) to make the total 213-4. Otherwise, it was a long day with few rewards for the South African bowlers.