Wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has figures of 4 for 51; Rohit Sharma scores unbeaten 122.
Images from Wednesday's World Cup match between India and South Africa, at Southampton.
Rohit Sharma’s gritty hundred after excellent bowling by Yuzvendra Chahal earned India a resounding six-wicket victory over South Africa in their World Cup opener, in Southampton, on Wednesday.
Rohit’s unbeaten on 122 off 144 balls was the cornerstone in India’s successful chase of 228 in 47.3 overs in conditions not exactly conducive for free-flowing stroke-play, after Jasprit Bumrah (10-1-35-2) bowled a scary opening spell and leggie Chahal (10-0-51-4) displayed his guile in the middle overs to restrict the Proteas.
Kagiso Rabada (10-1-39-2) was the pick of South Africa's bowlers, but his best was not enough to deny India an easy victory.
Everything went wrong for South Africa after skipper Faf du Plessis first surprised everyone by deciding to bat first and then dropped Rohit in the slips when he had barely got off the mark.
Once Du Plessis dropped Rohit, India’s vice-captain played a ramp shot to add salt to the wound. In all, he hit 13 fours and two sixes.
The Indian opener was given a second life towards the end of the chase, with David Miller dropping a regulation catch.
The bowler on both occasions was Rabada, whom the Indians played cautiously while attacking the others.
With no Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi, it was difficult for a second string attack to contain the Indian batsmen.
The weak link was the two spinners, Shamsi (0/54 in 10 overs) and Imran Tahir (0/58 in 10 overs), who were attacked by the Indian batsmen.
With the scoreboard pressure not there, Rohit and KL Rahul shared an 85-run partnership, and later Rohit and Dhoni, who added 74, could afford to wait for the loose balls.
Earlier, Bumrah set the tone with twin blows in his opening spell. Chahal then tightened the noose on South Africa’s batsmen and they could never really force the pace during the middle overs.
Incidentally, this was the best 10-over single spell (in terms of wickets taken) by any bowler in a World Cup game.
South Africa's total gained a semblance of respectability courtesy knocks from Chris Morris (42 off 34) and Kagiso Rabada (31 not out off 35), who shared a much needed 66-run stand for the eighth wicket.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (10-0-44-2), coming in place of Mohammed Shami, was impressive in his second spell.
Under a thick cloud cover and a pitch that offered bounce, Bumrah was unplayable in his initial five-over spell during which he pitched on good length or back of it, getting the deliveries to rear up awkwardly and shape away from openers Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla.
Bumrah dismissed Amla (6) with a beautiful delivery that rose from length outside the off-stump and the outside edge was taken low in the slips by Rohit Sharma.
De Kock (10) was out in his next over, when his back of length delivery was angled across and the left-hander's slash was pouched by skipper Virat Kohli at third slip.
Skipper Du Plessis (38 off 54 balls) and Rassie van der Dussen (22 off 37 balls) did add 44 runs for the third wicket but it was more of a consolidation job as they found scoring runs difficult.
The Powerplay yielded only 34 runs and even though the Proteas skipper hit four boundaries, he never looked comfortable.
Third seamer Hardik Pandya (6-0-31-0) also hit the hard lengths and one of his deliveries, a nasty snorter, hit Du Plessis flush on the gloves, leaving him in pain. Along with Kedar Jadhav (4-0-16-0), they shared the fifth bowler's duties admirably, giving away only 45 runs.
Once Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav (10-0-46-1) started operating in tandem, something was waiting to happen.
Van der Dussen, who was showing composure till then, suddenly had a brain fade as the right-hander tried an ambitious reverse sweep to a delivery drifting on his pads only to be bowled.
From 78 for 2, it soon became 80 for 4 as Du Plessis failed to read a Chahal googly and was bowled through the gate.
Kuldeep then had a horribly out-of-form JP Duminy (3 off 11) plumb in-front with scoreboard reading 89 for 5.
David Miller (31 off 40 balls) and Andile Phehlukwayo (34 off 61 balls) again had to carry out a repair job adding 46 runs but Chahal collected another two wickets quickly to reduce them to 158 for 7.