Cricket World Cup 2015: Shikhar Dhawan century for India 'embarrasses' South Africa

South Africa captain worried about morale after thrashing

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The Independent Online

South Africa captain A B de Villiers says the implications of Sunday’s heavy defeat by India in Melbourne run a lot deeper than just a setback in his side’s World Cup campaign. The South Africans were comprehensively outplayed and De Villiers is concerned about the effect on his team’s morale.

“It’s a big knock for us to get beaten by 130 runs,” he said. “It’s almost embarrassing. You never want to lose by that amount of runs.”

While he is still confident of leading his side to the quarter-finals, De Villiers admitted: “Your confidence takes a bit of a knock with performances like that and it’s up to the senior group of players to make sure that confidence is still there come Friday against the West Indies.”

Although he produced one of South Africa’s better performances in the field and was responsible for two run-outs, De Villiers was run out himself early in his team’s run chase, as was David Miller.

“You can’t afford to have two run-outs in the top six,” he said. “It could have been my night or David’s night, and we both sat on the side of the field not even being dismissed by a bowler, which is very  disappointing.”

Delhi-born Shikhar Dhawan calls a leafy Melbourne suburb home for much of the year but might have thought he was back in India when he was feted by a blue-clad horde of fans for a match-winning hundred. Dhawan’s sparkling 137 fired India to an imposing 307 for 7 in front of a crowd of more than 86,000, the best of the tournament so far.

Dhawan has had a forgettable summer Down Under with both the Test and one-day teams but has found form at the right time for India’s World Cup defence.

Coming off a reviving 73 in India’s opening win over arch-rivals Pakistan, the  29-year-old humbled South Africa’s vaunted pace attack with the highest World Cup knock against the Proteas, also his biggest score in ODIs.

“It was very important,” Dhawan said, as he accepted his man-of-the-match award. “Of course, it’s a great feeling for a player to score a century but, more than that, it was important that the partnerships should have been going big for the team.

“I wasn’t hurrying, I was just relaxed. I was just playing on the merit of the ball.”

At one stage, Dhawan smashed Dale Steyn over his head for six, prompting the fuming paceman to unleash a fierce short ball on the next delivery – which the left-hander ramped behind the wicket for four.

He shared a 127-run partnership with Virat Kohli (46) before combining with the explosive Ajinkya Rahane (79) for another 125. After hitting 16 fours and two sixes, he finally fell for 137 from 146 balls when a miscued pull at Wayne Parnell was caught by Hashim Amla at long leg.

India were then 261 for 3 in the 44th over and well on the way to ensuring South Africa would need a record chase at the MCG.

Despite a third-wicket stand of 68 between De Villiers and Faf du Plessis, the Proteas lost wickets at regular intervals on their way to 177 all out. Almost 10 overs were left unused as what had been billed as a blockbuster match-up petered out into a one-sided contest.

Ravichandran Ashwin was the pick of the Indian bowlers with 3 for 41, with Mohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami taking two apiece.

South Africa now lie joint second in Pool B with two points behind India’s four. They will need to regroup quickly before they play the West Indies in Sydney.

“We’ll have a chat tomorrow about where we went wrong – a mature chat and honest chat about it – and then hopefully play some good cricket on Friday,” De Villiers added.

“When it comes down to making the quarter-finals, I still believe that if we play some good cricket we’ll make that, but for now we’ll just have to lick our wounds and focus on Friday.”