In the highly anticipated league clash between India and South Africa in the second phase of the 2023 World Cup, the stakes were high. Both teams boasted formidable bowling line-ups and aggressive batters, with India holding a slight edge in the points table due to an extra victory over South Africa. The stage was set at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens for a nail-biting encounter, but the outcome proved to be anticlimactic. While India continued their strong performance throughout the tournament, South Africa deviated from their expected script, leading to a humbling defeat.
Opting to bat first on a challenging Kolkata pitch, Captain Rohit Sharma set the tempo with a brisk 24-ball 40. Despite two quick wickets by the visitors, Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer’s third-wicket partnership revived India’s innings, setting a target of 327 runs. During his unbeaten 49th century, Kohli equaled Sachin Tendulkar’s longstanding ODI century record, contributing 11, while Iyer scored a vital 77 from 87 balls.
South Africa’s response was dismal, succumbing to the likes of Mohammed Siraj and Ravindra Jadeja, the latter achieving a remarkable five-wicket haul. India’s dominant performance restricted the visitors to a mere 83 runs, culminating in an emphatic 243-run victory in Kolkata.
Despite being disheartened by such a significant defeat, South Africa’s captain, Temba Bavuma, maintained a comical outlook during the post-match presentation. He responded with wit when asked whether the initial powerplay was the most challenging for South Africa, humorously inquiring whether it pertained to their batting or bowling performance. Bavuma’s lighthearted response was followed by a more detailed analysis, acknowledging that Rohit’s explosive start and the partnership between Kohli and Iyer had tilted the game in India’s favor.
Here’s the exchange that transpired:
Presenter: “Were the first 10 overs the most challenging for your team?”
Temba Bavuma: “With the bat or with the ball?”
Presenter: “With the ball.”
Temba Bavuma: “The initial ten overs with the ball presented a considerable challenge. They amassed 90 runs in that phase. However, we managed to regain control thereafter, limiting the run rate. The most significant challenge was capturing wickets, and India forged substantial partnerships. Sharma played a crucial role in setting the foundation. Kohli and Iyer’s partnership was pivotal. It’s imperative to comprehend that the prevailing conditions served as a valuable learning experience. The pitch behaved as expected – it deteriorated as we foresaw, but our adaptability was lacking.”
South Africa still has one league-stage match remaining, facing Afghanistan in Ahmedabad on November 10. Only after this match will they ascertain their semifinal opponent.