India thrash South Africa to enter the semis

By Kersi Meher-Homji

It was a night to remember as India thrashed strong South Africa (SA) at The Oval in England to enter the semi final of the ICC Champions Trophy on Sunday.

India will meet Bangladesh at Birmingham on Thursday. If they win, they will meet the winners of England and Pakistan in the Final on Sunday (June18).

After a shock defeat against Sri Lanka last week, it was do-or-die for India. They had to defeat strong South Africa to survive. And they did it with a bang thanks to another blazing innings by Shikhar “Dham dhamadham dham” Dhawan.

Sent in to bat, SA made a strong start and was 2 for 140 in the 29th over. It was expected that they will total over 280 as skipper AB de Villiers was still there. But he was run out and in the next over David Miller was also run out. This cost SA the match as they lost 8 wickets for only 51 runs.

Fast-medium bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and spinners Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja took crucial wickets and SA was bundled out for 191 runs in 44.3 overs.

Set 192 to win at a mere 3.84 runs per over, India won by 8 wickets with 72 balls remaining. Dhawan (78 with 12 fours and a six) and captain Virat Kohli (76 not out, hitting 7 fours and a six) added 128 runs for the second wicket. The winning hit, a six, was hit by Yuvraj Singh as the crowd, mostly Indians, erupted in ecstasy.

At the presentation, Kohli said, “The fielders backed our bowlers. The opportunity comes your way, you have to grab it. Always good to get him out early, he can always hurt you (AB de Villiers). We wanted to step up that intensity. Important for someone to bat till the end, but Shikhar’s intent was outstanding. This is probably our best game we played so far. We played in Birmingham, we like that pitch, suits our game. No looking back. Always room for improvement, always small point you can improve on, can’t rest on your laurels.”

Man of the Match fast-medium bowler Bumrah commented, “An important game for us. We wanted to be calm and execute our plans. I’m happy with any role given to me. As long as you’re contributing, it’s good. The ball doesn’t swing too much, so stick to the basics ”“ bowl a hard length, don’t give room. A good toss to win, chasing has been relatively easier.”

On Monday the 12th, Pakistan defeated a confident Sri Lanka by three wickets to qualify for the second semi-final where they will meet England, the only undefeated team in the 2017 ICC Championship Trophy on Wednesday.

So far Indian batsmen lead in aggregate and average. Dhawan has scored most runs so far, 271 at 90.33 in three matches. Kohli has the highest batting average, 157.00.

It is surprising that well established teams like Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand have been eliminated while weaker teams like Bangladesh and Pakistan have advanced to meet India and England.

Now no one can say that India does well only in India and fails overseas.

So let the semis begin on Wednesday and Thursday. India against the giant-killers Bangladesh on Thursday should be a thriller. I can hardly wait. Can you?

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