Match 6 of my Champions Trophy watching gave me the chance to see 2 of the best teams in the world for a second time. I was hoping both would play to their potential. Amazingly the trains from Chelmsford were working which gave me quite a nice day trip albeit with an early start. The weather forecast was good, but having got wet and cold at previous games I looked like I was leaving home with extra layers being carried.
Virat Kohli won the toss and put South Africa in to bat, I’d say that was a very good decision after the fact. I’ve written about how I felt Kohli removed himself during the loss to Sri Lanka, this was to be a very different Kohli, we got the one everyone was excited to see.
The same can’t be said for the South African star line up, things started ok for them, if somewhat slowly with Quentin de Kock and Hashim Amla being forced to bat as if they were facing a red ball. India had Ashwin back in their armoury which was a nice surprise, it was great to see him in the flesh too.
For the first 17 overs it was hard to see where runs were going to come from, but it was also hard to see where a wicket would fall. It would take something special to see Amla off, step up Ashwin, he was caught by Dhoni, who was standing up close to the wicket for 35, runs that had taken him 54 balls to get. 76 for 1 wasn’t a bad start for South Africa and there were plenty of top class batsmen behind him.
Faf du Plessis joined de Kock in the middle and the pair carried on at a slow rate. Kohli was staying in touch with his bowlers rather than stationing himself on the boundary and Jadeja made the next breakthrough, bowling de Kock for 53, again the balls outnumbered the runs, he took 72 balls with 4 fours to his name. South Africa were 116 for 2, but had one of the best batsmen in the world at the crease as AB de Villiers joined du Plessis who is no slouch himself.
Would we be treated to a display by AB? Basically? No,because he and du Plessis took a risky run and Pandya got the ball in to Dhoni at speed who hit the stumps with de Villiers out of his crease, he’d made more than at Edgbaston, but 16 wasn’t really what I’d expected.
That run out was good work by the fielders what followed next was in the words of TMS presenter Dan Norcross a Coalition of Chaos, David Miller took off down the wicket, I can’t recall who’d hit the ball, but basically du Plessis didn’t move and we had the comedy of both batsmen being at the same end of the wicket. India had all the time in the world to get the ball up to the empty end. It took the third official to decide who was out, but poor Miller it was, with 1 to his name. 76 for 1 had rapidly turned into 142 for 4.
The remaining batsmen made only a further 49 runs between them, with Kohli and Dhoni combining to take the final wicket of Imran Tahir with a run out. 3 in one innings was indeed a Coalition of Chaos. 191 all out in 44.3 overs was a poor performance by the team that went into the competition at number 1 in the world.
Rohit Sharma and Shikar Dhawan opened the batting with speed men Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel opening the bowling. Standing at 6ft 5 and with a long arm the ball must fly down from around 8 feet! It was Morkel who took the first wicket, Sharma edged to de Kock having made 12 runs from 20 balls.
That caused huge cheers from the predominantly Indian crowd as it brought their idol to the crease. Would we see a different Kohli with his bat? Absolutely we did, he and Dhawan put on 128 runs. As well as being impressive with the bat, both men could pass easily as film starts, it’s easy to understand why they’re idolised in their home country. And in Kohli’s case around the world.
I was really hoping to see a second century but he was undone by Tahir, with du Plessis taking the catch, he’d made 78 from 83 balls including 12 fours and one six. India were 151 for 2 chasing 192.
Yuvraj Singh came in to a cacophony of noise, with 5 runs needed there were shouts of ‘we want 6’ – Yuvraj duly obliged and India were in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy. Classy Kohli had made 76 and Yuvraj 23.
India will face Bangladesh at Edgbaston and I’m sure they won’t underestimate them. It was good to see both Kohli and Yuvraj shaking hands with every South African at the end of play. The Indian captain is oft maligned, I like his passion, he was very gracious in defeat after the Sri Lanka match. I’ve seen nothing other than some attitude/passion on the pitch to see him deserving of criticism.
I walked to Kennington from after the game, in the middle of a very different to the Sri Lanka game, I did overhear some young lads saying how drunk they’d been after that game, so perhaps alcohol had a part to play as it so often does. The 133 bus turned up as I was waiting to cross the road so I took that option to Liverpool Street, altogether much nicer than the Northern Line!