Kolkata, Nov 5: Virat Kohli slammed a record 49th ton on his 35th birthday, even as his compatriots showed fine form against South Africa in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 match at the iconic Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
An attacking start from Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill was supplemented by brilliant ton from Virat Kohli and an attacking fifty from Shreyas Iyer. Courtesy of some late blows from Suryakumar Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja, India finished over 300.
South Africa showed good fight in the field, plugging the flow of runs in the middle overs, but India managed to start brightly and finish strongly.
This was Kohli’s 49th ODI century, making him the joint-highest century-maker in ODIs
India batters were among the boundaries from the very first over, hitting eight fours in the first four overs. Rohit hit five of these boundaries.
He added another four and two beautiful sixes in the very next over, off Lungi Ngidi to lift India even further.
However, the skipper’s aggressive takedown of the South Africa bowling lineup was eventually brought to an end in the sixth over. Rohit tried to clear Kagiso Rabada around the mid-off region, but was brilliantly taken by his opposite number, Temba Bavuma.
However, the run flow didn’t stop as Virat Kohli, celebrating his 35th birthday, came to the crease and continued going for his shots.
It took Keshav Maharaj’s excellence to dismiss Shubman Gill. He delivered a beauty which made Gill go towards the on-side and then beat his bat to trim his off-stump.
As the South Africa spinners started making better use of the wicket, the scoring opportunities for the Indian batters reduced. From Gill’s wicket up untill the 25-over mark, Kohli and Iyer scored only three more boundaries.
Shackles were broken in the 28th over, when Iyer hit Tabraiz Shamsi for a towering six. A set of boundaries flew from his bat as India upped their rate to over six an over.
Kohli too picked pace, and India looked set for a total in excess of 300.
However, Iyer’s dismissal in the 37th over slowed down India’s scoring rate.
The teams were tangled in a closely fought battle in the death overs, even as India tried to lift the scoring rate at the back of some attacking stroke-play from Suryakumar Yadav (22 from 13), while South Africa tried to pull things back with some tidy work in the field.
Big blows from Ravindra Jadeja helped India to 326/5, even as Kohli finished at 101 not out.
Rohit Sharma won the toss and opted to bat first in Kolkata. Rohit expressed that both sides have played some good cricket so far in the tournament, and they were looking forward to an interesting contest today. India went in with the same XI.
Temba Bavuma too wanted to bat first. There was only one change in the South Africa setup, with Tabraiz Shamsi coming in for Gerald Coetzee.
India are the only undefeated side in the tournament thus far but will be wary of Temba Bavuma’s men, who have gone from strength to strength since their upset against the Netherlands in Dharamsala.
While the Men in Blue have been rocked by the loss of all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami’s form has been a big boost for them. The pacer has picked 14 wickets at a mind-boggling average of 6.71, especially bamboozling the batters under the lights.
South Africa’s only concern, thus far, has been their form while chasing. In their two instances of batting second, they’ve lost a low-scoring encounter to the Dutch, while in the second game, they emerged victorious against Pakistan in Chennai by a wicket in hand.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (wk), Temba Bavuma (c), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi. (UNI)