Opener Shikhar Dhawan hammered a confident 137 to help defending champions India post a challenging 307 for 7 from their 50 overs against South Africa in a Pool B match in the ICC Cricket World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground here today.
India suffered an early setback after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat first when a direct hit to the stumps by A B de Villiers, who had dived to stop the ball, found opener Rohit Sharma way out of his crease in the third over. Sharma had not scored in total of 9.
Virat Kohli (46) joined Dhawan, and the two added 127 for the second wicket to steady the Indian innings. Kohli fell to the spin of Imran Tahir, edging the ball chest-high to Faf du Plessis at short mid-wicket. His 46 was made off 60 balls and included three hits to the fence.
The South African bowling continued to come under attack as Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane (79) put on 125 for the third wicket. Dhawan treated the pace and spin bowlers with scant respect, hitting them to al corners of the field. His 137 was compiled off 146 deliveries, and included two sixes and 16 fours.
Rahane made his 79 off just 60 balls with the help of three sixes and seven fours.
The Indian innings slowed down a bit after Dhawan left in the 44th over, with Suresh Raina departing after making just six. Dhoni (18) was the only other Indian to get into double figures today.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel came up with some effective bowling in the final overs to rein in the Indians.
Dhawan's 137 was the highest individual World Cup score against South Africa, bettering the previous high of 134 by Stephen Fleming of New Zealand in 2003.