World Cup horror show inspires brutal sledge
SOUTH Africa's woeful World Cup continued as India started its campaign in perfect fashion with a comfortable six-wicket win in Southampton.
Rohit Sharma anchored India's chase, scoring a sublime 122 not out to ensure India passed South Africa's 9-227 in the 48th over.
With Dale Steyn ruled out of the tournament and fellow fast bowler Lungi Ngidi missing because of a hamstring injury, the Proteas needed something special to rebound from consecutive losses to England and Bangladesh but had no answers to an Indian outfit that dominated from start to finish.
England great Kevin Pietersen weighed in with a brutal sledge after the dismal result.
"Not sure what's up with SA cricket. They have to improve or there'll be 3 day Tests when England turn up later in (the) year," Pietersen wrote on Twitter.
Jasprit Bumrah was exceptional with the new ball, perhaps making South African captain Faf du Plessis regret his decision to bat first after winning the toss.
Bumrah struck twice in his first spell, removing openers Hashim Amla (6) and Quinton de Kock (10) as South Africa stumbled to 2-24.
Du Plessis tried to resurrect the innings but the fact his modest 38 was the second-top score reflected how poor his team was with the bat.
His teammates were mesmerised by the leg-spin of Yuzvendra Chahal, who spun a web around the men in green on his way to grabbing 4-51 from 10 overs.
His first victim was Rassie van der Dussen, bowled for 22 before the tweaker took the all-important wicket of du Plessis in the same fashion just two runs later.
Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav joined the party and trapped JP Duminy leg before as South Africa lost 3-11, slumping to 5-89.
Chahal then took care of David Miller (31) and Andile Phehlukwayo (34) as Proteas batsmen again failed to convert promising starts into meaty scores. No.8 Chris Morris top-scored with 42.
"To have so many 30s and 40s is not acceptable," du Plessis said after the match.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar chipped in with two late wickets as South Africa bumbled its way to less-than-inspiring 9-227 from its 50 overs.
While it was a total that would hardly have struck fear into Indian hearts, the way the South African quicks started, there would have been some nervous players in the opposition dressing room.
Kagiso Rabada and Morris were exceptional up front, generating steep bounce from a length, beating the bat with seam movement and making life miserable for Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
Sharma was lucky to survive when du Plessis shelled a tough chance, running forwards from second slip but unable to hold on to the ball just above the turf after Rabada had hit the shoulder of the bat. Morris had similar bad luck when another ball hit the splice and lobbed just over point.
South Africa eventually found some joy when Dhawan edged Rabada behind to wicketkeeper de Kock and the battle that ensued between the star quick and Indian skipper Virat Kohli was worth the price of admission alone.
Rabada steamed in and made Kohli earn his survival every ball as the world's best ODI batsman was given no freebies. Normally such a fluent scorer, Kohli was restricted to 18 from 34 balls as the Proteas followed a plan to hit areas short of a length outside off stump.
Rabada gave India's maestro a working over but Phehlukwayo got the ultimate reward when Kohli flashed at a wide delivery, getting an edge that was snaffled brilliantly by a diving de Kock behind the stumps. The gloveman was airborne as he flew to his right, plucking the ball one-handed in a spectacular show of acrobatics.
India was 2-54 at that stage and the Proteas sniffed a possible upset, but Sharma and KL Rahul blunted the bowling attack to put on 85 runs for the third wicket.
Sharma dominated the scoring but Rahul's 26 was valuable in settling things down and bringing the momentum back India's way.
When he chipped Rabada to mid-off, MS Dhoni came in and coolly accompanied Sharma to his ton and put the result beyond doubt.
Dhoni fell for 34 but by then the win was assured, and Sharma remained unbeaten as Hardik Pandya hit the winning runs.
Former South African stars Pat Symcox and Herschelle Gibbs were among those to criticise the Proteas.
"So the bowlers got injured and that was a real worry for SA. But if your batters don't score enough runs it makes no difference who your bowlers are on flat pitches...you will lose to good teams," Smycox tweeted.
Gibbs chimed in with: "Well you need a bowlers to take wickets consistently and batsman to get 100s. We haven't had that yet."
South Africa's hopes of making the semi-finals aren't completely done just yet after three straight defeats but they will need to win their remaining six matches to stand a chance of progressing to the knockout stage.