New Delhi: India continued their dominant run in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, registering their eighth consecutive win by thrashing South Africa by 243 runs at the Eden Garden ground in Kolkata. The hosts, who had already qualified for the semi-finals, showed no mercy to the Proteas, who were also in contention for the knockouts. India posted a mammoth total of 326 for 5 in 50 overs, thanks to a brilliant century by captain Virat Kohli and a fluent 77 by Shreyas Iyer. In reply, South Africa were bundled out for a paltry 83 in 27.1 overs, with left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja taking a five-wicket haul.
The match was a one-sided affair from the start, as India won the toss and opted to bat first. Kohli, who was celebrating his 35th birthday, led from the front with a masterclass of batting. He scored his 49th ODI century, becoming the first player in history to score 50 centuries in white-ball cricket (49 in ODIs and one in T20Is). He also completed 500 runs in the current World Cup, 6000 runs in ODIs for India, and equaled Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries. He remained unbeaten on 101 off 120 balls, hitting six fours and two sixes.
Kohli was well supported by Iyer, who scored 77 off 68 balls, smashing seven fours and three sixes. The duo added 134 runs for the third wicket after India lost KL Rahul (18) and Rohit Sharma (32) in quick succession. Rishabh Pant (45 off 31 balls) and Hardik Pandya (28 off 14 balls) also chipped in with some quick runs in the end, as India reached a formidable total.
South Africa’s bowling was lacklustre, as only Keshav Maharaj (2 for 46) managed to keep some control over the Indian batsmen. The rest of the bowlers, including Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, and Andile Phehlukwayo, were expensive and ineffective.
South Africa’s batting was even worse, as they collapsed under the pressure of the huge target. They lost wickets at regular intervals and never looked like posing any threat to the Indian bowlers. Only David Miller (11) and Keshav Maharaj (12) reached double digits, as the rest of the batsmen failed miserably. Jadeja was the star of the show, taking 5 for 15 in his 10 overs, including the wickets of Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, Heinrich Klaasen, Miller, and Ngidi. Mohammed Siraj (2 for 18), Mohammed Shami (2 for 24) and Hardik Pandya (1 for 16) also bowled well, as India wrapped up the match in less than 28 overs.
With this win, India has consolidated their position at the top of the points table, with 16 points from eight matches. They have also extended their winning streak in the World Cup to 11 matches, dating back to the 2019 edition. South Africa, on the other hand, has slipped to the fourth spot, with 10 points from eight matches. They will have to win their last match against Sri Lanka and hope for other results to go their way, to make it to the semi-finals.