Melbourne, Feb 22: India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said it was yet another "complete performance" from his side in the cricket World Cup after the Men in Blue broke their World Cup jinx against South Africa with an emphatic 130-run victory in a group B match here today.
Shikhar Dhawan smashed a career-best 137 to propel India to a comfortable 307 for seven before the bowlers performed brilliantly to bundle out the Proteas for 177 in 40.2 overs in what turned out to be a rather lopsided contest at the packed Melbourne Cricket Ground. This was India's maiden World Cup win against South Africa after having lost in 1992, 1999 and 2011.
"I think more than just the result, it was how we played. Back to back performances by both the bowling and batting units. South Africa are a very good side, so it was one more complete performance," Dhoni said at the post-match presentation.
With two wins from as many matches, India now have a very good chance of qualifying for the quarterfinals as group leaders. It was yet another commendable show by the Indians, who came into the tournament following a string of poor results in the tri-series. And Dhoni said what was heartening to see for him as the leader was the team executing its plans on the ground.
'Very pleased with run outs'
"What's happening really well is we are able to execute our plans. I can give fields to the fast bowlers. They are not bowling loose balls. They bowled tight lines and the batsmen had to play big shots to get runs. The amount of effort the fast bowlers are putting in the nets is beginning to show now," he said.
"The bowlers bowled in good areas, and even (Ravindra) Jadeja bowled very well, not just quick and flat the way he usually bowls." The Indian skipper also had words of praise for the team's ground fielding against South Africa.
"I am very pleased with the run outs. We usually see the oppositions taking on our fast bowlers in the deep. Mohit (Sharma) and Umesh (Yadav) are quite fast and have good arms," Dhoni said.
Dhoni feels it was a good toss to win as the wicket changed a bit under lights, a theory which his counterpart AB de Villiers begged to differ.
"We can only speculate how important the toss was. I felt the wicket changed a bit. We were able to swing the ball under lights," he said.
'Bowlers fought back well'
South Africa captain de Villiers was of the view that the two runs outs of him and David Miller were the turning point of the match. "The run-outs cost us dearly tonight, just when we got started with the bat. We lost our way," he said.
"I thought our bowlers fought back well, we were looking at 350 at one stage. It was a 270-275 kind of wicket, but looking at the way the Indians batted, it was a good effort to restrict them to 307."
"We just have to regroup as a batting unit and work hard on our game. I still thought it was a good toss to win. It was one of those where you wanted to bat first and put a team under pressure who had fielded in the heat, but still no excuses. We just didn't bat well enough," de Villers said.
Patient approach for Dhawan
Man of the Match Dhawan said he adopted a patient approach and played shots according to the merit of the ball. "I would say it's a great feeling when a batsman scores a century. It was very important that the partnerships were going big for my team. That was my plan," he said.
"We lost the early wicket today, AB (de Villiers) hit a great run out. We just wanted to stay at the wicket. Their first 3 bowlers are very good so respected the good balls. "I was relaxed, I knew once set I could bring up the run rate again. After 20-25th over I was in, and I knew I could get boundaries easily. I was just playing on the merit of the ball," Dhawan said.
Dhawan also complimented Virat Kohli (46) and Ajinkya Rahane (79) for providing him support from the other end. "(Kohli and Rahane) batted beautifully. Virat at the start, when we were under pressure, gave the stability, and Jinky (Rahane) started on a good note, and his strike rate was good so I could relax at the other end," he said.