A clinical display with the ball was well complimented by Indian vice-captain Rohit Sharma who scored a match-winning century to ensure his team started their World Cup campaign with a win. The 32-year-old carried the bat for team India, building healthy partnerships with MS Dhoni and KL Rahul to make sure India chased down the Proteas’ total of 228 on a tricky surface at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl.
Speaking about that knock in the post-match press conference, Indian captain Virat Kohli said “I think in my opinion this is by far his best ODI innings because of the kind of pressure the first game brings from a World Cup point of view.”
Sharma started off slowly and avoided attacking the South African quicks Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris during the powerplay overs, owing to the ball swinging and bouncing in the beginning. He maintained his composure and stayed firm at the crease despite the Indian’s losing Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli early on in their innings. He ended with a 122* off 144 balls as India won the game by six wickets.
Speaking on that, Kohli said “as a batsman, when you go in and a few balls bounce like that, it's not easy to gather yourself again and play in a calm manner.
“A lot of times batsmen tend to hit their way out of the situation. But he was very composed, he's played so many games, we expect a lot of maturity and a lot of responsibility from someone like him. "I think controlling the game so beautifully from one end and allowing the others to display themselves and string in small little partnerships, looking at the fact that they were only chasing 228, he played the perfect innings for that kind of a situation on that kind of a wicket.”
Speaking on his own performance, the Indian vice-captained was quoted saying in the post-match “Couldn't play my natural game. You have to take your time. Certain shots that I like playing, I had to cut out and play close to the body, and follow the basics properly - try and leave as many balls as possible on a pitch that is doing a bit.
It wasn't a typical Rohit Sharma innings, but I had to play out the overs initially to make sure that the job is done," he concluded.