Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja excelled as India smashed South Africa by 243 runs at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday. On his 35th birthday, Virat Kohli produced a world record-equaling century (101 not out) as India achieved a massive total of 326 for 5 on the tough surface in Kolkata after deciding to bat first. Rohit Sharma also contributed to India’s score with a 40-run knock off only 24 balls. In response, Ravindra Jadeja delivered a five-wicket haul (5 for 33) as India bowled out South Africa for 83 runs.
The Proteas’ chase began disastrously after India scored 326-5, as they lost half their side for 40 runs in 14 overs. Jadeja (5-33) and Mohammed Shami (2-18) caused mayhem, while Mohammed Siraj (1-11) and Kuldeep Yadav (2-7) also contributed to the victory.
South Africa, like their opponents, have previously qualified for the semi-finals but will have little confidence going into the knockout rounds. After being struck for 94 runs in nine overs by India’s hitters, Marco Jansen emerged as their leading scorer with 14 runs.
Earlier, Kohli’s unbroken 101 had placed the hosts in command, tying him with fellow Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar for the most one-day international hundreds with 49. Kohli also passed 500 runs in the competition, anchoring a third-wicket partnership of 134 with Shreyas Iyer, who smashed 77 with seven fours and two sixes.
The projected blockbuster match between the tournament’s top two sides turned out to be a wet squib, thanks to a bowling masterpiece by Jadeja, who recorded his best ever ODI stats of 5 for 33.
With their eighth victory, Rohit Sharma and company maintain their unblemished record in the competition. India also retained their lead in the rankings, while South Africa, which suffered their only second defeat, remained in second place.
It was South Africa’s second-lowest one-day international total and the lowest in a World Cup. Lower-order batsman Marco Jansen led the way with 14 runs, while left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja claimed 5-33.
South Africa might yet meet India, who have won all eight of their pool games so far, in a semi-final or potentially the final on November 19 in Ahmedabad.
Rohit Sharma, India captain: “If we look at how we played in the last three games, we played better in terms of adapting to the situation. We were put under pressure against England. In the last game as well, we lost a wicket in the first over but got to a good score and seamers came to the party. Today was not an easy pitch, you needed someone like Kohli, who batted to the situation. Not to forget Shreyas. It’s important to let guys have freedom in the middle and what the team expects from them. You know it can’t always be done but when it does it looks good and that’s what happened with Shami. Same with Iyer, wasn’t getting the runs but he’s showed in the last two games the kind of class he has. Going hard in the first ten isn’t something we’ve discussed. That’s how Gill and I have batted together. We let our instincts take over. If the wicket is good, we keep going and things fall in place. Jadeja has been really good. Big matchwinner. He keeps doing the job, goes under the radar but today is a classic case of what he does – score late runs and take wickets. Not to get ahead of ourselves is something we are constantly talking about. When we turn up, we want to play to our potential.”
Temba Bavuma, South Africa captain: “We know the challenge, know the narrative around us while chasing. Didn’t do it any justice today. When we talk about it as a batting group, gotta be honest. The first ten overs with the ball made it a challenge. We did do quite well after that. Biggest challenge was taking wickets and India built big stands. The conditions are the biggest learning. Wicket played as we suspected it to play – expected it to deteriorate but we didn’t adapt well. It will be up to us to adapt our skills accordingly.”
Virat Kohli, Player of the Match: “It was a big game. Probably playing the toughest team in the tournament so far, there was motivation for doing well. People made it a bit more special on my birthday. I had a sense of it being something more. When the openers start in that fashion, you’d think it was a belter. Conditions change with the old ball. Message from the management was for me to bat deep, I was happy from that perspective. We knew we were above par when around 315. I enjoy playing cricket again which is more important now and that I’m able to contribute for the team all over again. Tendulkar’s tweet is quite special. It’s all too much to take in for now. It’s a huge honour to equal my hero’s record. He’s perfection with the bat. It’s an emotional moment. I know the days I come from, I know the days I have watched him on TV. To receive appreciation from him means a lot to me.”