A woeful batting display from the Proteas saw India thrash them by eight wickets at the Oval on Sunday to book their place in the Champions Trophy semi-final.
Another major tournament, another early exit for the Proteas. India skipper Virat Kohli said before the match that the team which displays the most composure will be the winners. That is precisely what happened.
Toss lost or not, South Africa got themselves into a strong position. But the nerves crept in after the loss of a couple of key wickets, and then came the run-outs, which, sadly, will linger the longest in the memories of this failed campaign. The post mortem will, once again, reveal the Proteas’ inability to perform in pressure situations up to the standards they’re used to.
India had a fired-up blanket of blue supporters surrounding them at the Oval, and they thrived off it. While the Proteas were poor, take nothing away from how clinical the Indians were. They cashed in at key moments with the ball, and Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli made sure of victory with the willow.
The victory for India all but wraps up top spot in Group B, which will set them up with a semi-final clash against Bangladesh. The Proteas will head home with just a Sri Lanka victory to their name, despite being the No 1 side in the world.
Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla got their side off to a measured start. Seeing off the first 10 overs has been the way the openers have been doing it in this tournament, and their 76-run stand handed them a solid platform. But then Amla departed just as he was starting to get going on 35, while De Kock perished in the over after he brought up his fifty.
The last eight wickets fell for 75 runs, and the run-out of AB de Villiers was the catalyst. For the third time in four major tournaments, De Villiers has been run out with Faf du Plessis at the other end, including this fixture in the 2015 World Cup. David Miller was run out on that occasion too, and his run-out was complete madness.
Du Plessis attempted a quick single with Hardik Pandya loitering in the short covers, which saw De Villiers short for 16. Miller then made the call to run a single that went straight to short third man. Confusion ensued, as Du Plessis turned back with Miller already too far down the wicket. Miller was the man to go for one.
Once Faf du Plessis chopped one on to his stumps for 36 off the bowling of Hardik Pandya (1-52), it was left to JP Duminy to pick up the pieces. But no one else lasted long enough to allow at least some semblance of a strong finish. Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo both departed for four, while Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel fell in successive deliveries off the impressive Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-23).
Imran Tahir was on the receiving end of a third run-out, failing to get back in his crease after some confusion as to whether to run a second to get Duminy back on strike. Duminy was left stranded on 20 off 41 balls as they were bowled out for 191.
The Indian openers were afforded the luxury of pacing themselves as much as they liked. Rohit Sharma had enough after a few overs and decided to unleash a six and a four in consecutive deliveries off Rabada to get their innings up and running. Morne Morkel, whose tournament will go down as a very good one on a personal level, would be the first to strike as he forced the edge of Sharma for 12.
Virat Kohli, an expert in chasing down totals, formed a partnership with Dhawan that very quickly took the match completely away from the Proteas. Dhawan, who scored centuries in the last two major tournament victories over South Africa, was on track for a third century in a row at the Oval, and in sublime form once again.
The pair struck up a 128-run stand, and by the time Dhawan departed for 78, the damage was well and truly done. Yuvraj Singh (23 off 25 balls) used his experience to see the side over the line with Kohli, who ended unbeaten on 76. The match was all wrapped up with 12 overs to spare, as Yuvraj finished it off with a huge six into the roaring crowd.
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