MELBOURNE – India opener Shikhar Dhawan was understandably elated after his superb century laid the platform for a crushing 130-run World Cup win over title contenders South Africa in Melbourne on Sunday.
It was a ‘home’ game in more ways for one for Dhawan, who lives in Melbourne with his wife and children and was roared on Sunday by a huge crowd of nearly 87 000, mainly India-supporting spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The left-hander’s superb 137 was the cornerstone of India’s 307 for seven and it proved too much for the Proteas, who crumbled to 177 all out in reply.
“It was very important to score a century, it’s a great feeling,” Dhawan, all of whose seven one-day international hundreds have come in a winning cause, said at the presentation ceremony.
“We lost an early wicket but we just wanted to stay there and respect the good balls and cash in on the bad deliveries. I knew I could pick up the run-rate, I was relaxed,” he added.
Victory gave India their second commanding victory of the tournament after they beat arch-rivals Pakistan by 76 runs in their opener and left them on course for the quarter-finals at the top of Pool B.
“I think it’s more than just the result that pleases me,” said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“It was a back-to-back good performance from both the bowling and batting unit, which is why we can enjoy it.
“South Africa are such a good side, so I think that makes it an even more satisfying win.”
India may not be as renowned as South Africa for their prowess in the field but two sharp run-outs to dismiss South Africa dangermen AB de Villiers and David Miller put the match beyond the Proteas’ reach and proved just how much the champions mean to defend their title.
“The run-outs cost us dearly, coming just when we got started with the bat in hand,” said skipper De Villiers. “That’s where we lost the game.”
South Africa, who now have one win from two pool matches after beating Zimbabwe, were hampered in the field, with paceman Vernon Philander only bowling four overs before succumbing to a hamstring injury.
“The bowlers fought back well because we were staring at 350,” said De Villiers. “It was a 270-280 par wicket although to restrict India to 307 was a good effort.”