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Semi-final spot already secured, Proteas blown away in Cricket World Cup clash against India

India's Mohammed Siraj celebrates with team-mates after picking up a wicket during their Cricket World Cup match against South Africa

India's Mohammed Siraj celebrates with team-mates after picking up a wicket during their Cricket World Cup match against South Africa at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday. Photo: Abhjit Adya/Shutterstock via BackpagePix

Published Nov 5, 2023


The Eden Gardens furnace proved too hot for South Africa on a smouldering Sunday in Kolkata.

Hosts India rolled into the City of Joy and ensured 70 000 people inside the venerable venue and millions across the entire country were smiling at the end of the day after the 243-run demolition of the Proteas.

It could not have gone more to script for the team in blue from the moment Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to bat.

And it was “King” Virat Kohli that reigned supreme.

The Gardens had come to celebrate Kohli’s 35th birthday. Kohli duly delivered his 49th One-Day International century — to level up with his idol Sachin Tendulkar — to get the party started.

It was a masterclass on a surface that took plenty of turn and provided the foundation for India’s 326/6, with Kolhi unbeaten on 101 off 121 balls (10x4).

There was a feeling that Kohli and Shreyas Iyer (77 off 87 balls) could have accelerated a bit more during their 134-run partnership, but the pair had identified that Keshav Maharaj, who clean bowled Shubman Gill with a beautifully flighted delivery that pitched outside leg stump and hit the top of off stump, was South Africa’s one and only threat on a disappointing day with the ball for the Proteas.

To be fair, South Africa were equally pitiful with the bat too as Kohli’s century was ultimately more than what the entire Proteas batting unit could collectively muster on the day.

And this from a team that has posted the three highest scores at this World Cup.

But that of course is when they are offered first use of the surface and resemble green Hulks powering the ball into the stands.

Batting second and they adopt the alter ego of Bruce Banner. Timid and meek and open to surrender as they duly did in crumbling to 83 all out — easily surpassing their previous record lowest score of 140 at World Cups.

South Africa simply have no formula of putting together a run chase. Unlike India who attacked the opening Powerplay, helped in large amounts by Lungi Ngidi’s inconsistent lengths and Marco Jansen’s radar going walkabout, South Africa simply seemed content to allow the likes of Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami to bowl at them with the new ball.

The early loss of the in-form Quinton de Kock, who chopped on against Siraj, did not help the cause but someone needed to launch a counterattack.

Nobody ultimately seized the moment, which allowed left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja to tighten the pressure valve even further.

Jadeja (5/33) is a past master at darting the ball into the pitch for the surface to do the rest, which led to captain Temba Bavuma’s downfall.

It is not the first time during this World Cup that the South African skipper was caught on his crease playing down the wrong line by a left-arm spinner, and with the playoffs fast approaching Bavuma’s lack of runs is becoming increasingly more of a concern for the Proteas.

From hereon Jadeja was the puppet master as he had the ball on a string and ran through South Africa’s middle-order to complete his maiden five-wicket haul at a World Cup.

Shami (2/18) was also relentless from the other end, showing the South Africans seamers the fuller length required in Indian conditions, before leg-spinner Kuldeep Yadav (2/7) wrapped up the Proteas tail to bring the contest to a rapid close.

The only positive on a garish day for the Proteas is that the result is inconsequential as both teams have already qualified for the semi-finals and that they can only hope that a youngster such as Jansen (1/94) can take learnings from having experienced an occasion such as playing the hosts in such an intoxicating atmosphere and hopefully returns in better shape when everything is on the line in just under a fortnight’s time.


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