Champions Trophy: India drubs South Africa, makes semifinals

LONDON, JUNE 11,

South Africa’s cricketers resent their reputation for freezing under pressure, but they do themselves no favours.

They were complicit in their own demise again as India produced a commanding performance to storm into the semifinals of the Champions Trophy.

In what was effectively a quarterfinal tie, South Africa sank to a mediocre 191 all out on a benign pitch at the Oval, before India rushed home with 12 overs to spare.

Yuvraj Singh struck the final blow, depositing J-P. Duminy into the stands, to complete an eight-wicket victory in glorious sunshine.

Virat Kohli’s men, who top Group B, will now face Bangladesh in Birmingham on Thursday for a place in the final.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah bowled with control and pin-point accuracy after India had elected to field first, but the South African innings was derailed by two reckless, wasteful run-outs in the space of six balls. A.B. de Villiers and an in-form David Miller were their side’s best hopes of a big score at that stage, and South Africa never truly recovered from their exits, losing the last eight wickets for 51.

Rohit Sharma fell early in the run chase, but Shikhar Dhawan maintained his excellent form, making 78 as he and Kohli added 128 runs for the second wicket. Dhawan has now scored 271 runs in three innings at the tournament, and he was barely troubled by the bowling here, the pick of his shots a whip off the pads that sent Morne Morkel sailing into the stands on the leg-side.

Kohli was slow to begin with and was on nine runs off 24 balls at one point. But he broke the shackles with a stunning straight drive for six off Andile Phehlukwayo, eventually finishing unbeaten on 76.

In the morning, R. Ashwin, replacing Umesh Yadav, provided the first breakthrough, removing Hashim Amla for 35.

Giving nothing away

South Africa’s openers had laboured through the first hour of play, managing only 52 runs in 14 overs. Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah bowled tight lines, giving nothing away.

Just as South Africa sought to move up a gear, Ashwin struck, having Amla edge behind.

Quinton de Kock, who was strangely cautious all morning, brought up his 14th ODI fifty but was bowled soon after, trying to sweep Ravindra Jadeja.

South Africa had only 119 on the board after 25 overs, and it was obvious Faf du Plessis and de Villiers had to lift the tempo. Which they did, briefly. Hardik Pandya came under attack and de Villiers began striking the ball well, moving to 14 off 12, as the first shoots of a South African revival could just be spotted.

They quickly vanished from view.

du Plessis pushed the ball towards Pandya into the covers and set off for a needless single; de Villiers sprinted to the striker’s end but Dhoni had whipped the bails off.

Only two more runs had been added when the new man, Miller, met with the same fate as his captain.

du Plessis charged out for a quick single before turning around mid-pitch. Miller had also taken off, and both batsmen comically found themselves at the same end.

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