Melbourne, Feb 23: For nearly two months in Australia, India endured a tough time. They struggled and struggled failing to win a single international game. But suddenly, MS Dhoni-led side is on a different level at ICC World Cup 2015 after two wins, in the same country.
Two big victories (Pakistan and South Africa) on 2 Sundays, have given belief to the team that they can go all the way. What one witnessed at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) yesterday (February 22) against South Africa augurs well for the rest of the tournament. ('Fixing' claims proved wrong)
While there were various factors that led to India's comprehensive 130-run victory over South Africa, the following 10 were the key.
1. Shikhar Dhawan's career-best 137. Only the second Indian to score a ton against South Africa at a World Cup, after Sachin Tendulkar (111 in 2011). Dhawan was under pressure coming into the tournament but in two matches he is back in form
2. Ajinkya Rahane's quick half century (79 off 60 balls with 7 fours and 3 sixes) with a strike rate of 131.66
3. Scoring 300 plus runs against a formidable South African pace attack which has world's best fast bowler Dale Steyn
4. Two century plus partnerships, first Dhawan and Virat Kohli (127 for 2nd wicket) and later Dhawan and Rahane (125 for 3rd)
5. The run out of South African captain AB de Villiers for 30 by Mohit Sharma. At that stage, De Villiers and Faf du Plessis were rebuilding the innings and looked like taking the match away from India, but Mohit's brilliant throw from the deep and MS Dhoni's quick work cut short SA skipper's stay. Later Dhoni too mentioned about the run out being one of the turning points
6. India's high fielding standards at MCG, which would have done even their opposition proud
7. Dhoni's captaincy in South Africa's run chase of 308. He came in for praise from former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly for being innovative
8. Dhoni won a crucial toss. Though this advantage was minimal, it was always tough for chasing sides to overhaul targets of 300 at a big ground like MCG. No side had topped 300 while batting second at MCG
9. Collective bowling effort of India. Mohammed Shami was outstanding at the beginning and offspinner R Ashwin joined in with 3 wickets in the middle overs. So were others
10. India's 12th man - crowd (photos) at MCG. Close to 90,000 were at the ground, most of them in blue. They cheered the team from ball one. The players would have felt like playing in Mumbai and not in Melbourne. Dhoni thanked the fans for the support