Champions Trophy: Shikhar Dhawan's breath of fresh air leaves Boks to choke... again

India 331-7 South Africa 305 (India won by 26 runs)

Perhaps it was premature to call it choking but there was a definite throaty gargle by South Africa. In losing the opening match of the Champions Trophy by 26 runs to India they may have given notice of what they are capable later in the month.

Defeat was always likely following a commanding maiden one-day century by Shikhar Dhawan, but they gave it what the statisticians have come to call an assist. South Africa's reputation for being eliminated at the business stages of major limited-overs competitions – for being chokers, that is – is often unkindly directed but it has been hard-earned down the years.

Although India's 331 for seven was always likely to be beyond reach, they had matters in control at 155 for two in the 25th over. Almost inevitably, they then mucked it up with a medley of lapses, including two crazy run-outs which effectively terminated the contest.

The late revival which took them as close as they got was slightly more than window dressing, but the clatter of wickets had done for them.

AB de Villiers, South Africa's captain, said: "Sometimes you're not in the same mindwave as your partner in the heat of battle with the pressure on but it was unforced errors that cost us dearly."

On reflection (a phrase which must have cropped up in their dressing room on myriad occasions) they might have chosen to bat first on the Sophia Gardens pitch in Cardiff. Then again, no side batting first had won any of the seven completed one-day internationals at the ground.

India batted sublimely at the start, and it swiftly became apparent that if Dale Steyn does not recover from his side strain, their exit from the competition will follow. He adds a cutting edge which his cohorts could not quite replace.

Dhawan, who played five one-day internationals two years ago and made a spectacular 187 from 174 balls in his first and, so far, only Test innings in March, was breathtaking in his selection of shot. He and Rohit Sharma put on 127 for India in an all-new first-wicket partnership, presumably devised overnight.

They started without risk but from the fifth over on were rampant, clearing and piercing the field to the delight of a packed house which largely contained Indian supporters. At one stage a total of 400 looked within their scope but South Africa, whose injury concerns were compounded when Morne Morkel left the field with a quadriceps injury, refused to go quietly.

They overcame the loss of two early wickets as De Villiers and Robin Peterson played in an attacking yet measured fashion which put them up with the required rate. Peterson went for a single which his captain decided was not there, three wickets fell in six balls soon after, including another run-out when Faf de Plessis slipped, and that seemed quite enough.

Some joyful left-handed hitting by Ryan McLaren ensured it did not end quietly, but India usually looked as if they knew what they were doing.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...