On Virat Kohli's 35th birthday, he celebrated his second century of the World Cup, guiding India to a resounding 243-run victory over South Africa at the Eden Gardens in the 37th match on Sunday.
South Africa's pursuit of 327 runs got off to a shaky start as they lost half of their side for a mere 40 runs within 14 overs. Ravindra Jadeja, who claimed five wickets for 33 runs, and Mohammed Shami, with two wickets for 18 runs, wreaked havoc on the Proteas. Ultimately, South Africa succumbed to only their second defeat, getting dismissed for 83 runs in 27.1 overs.
Jadeja was the standout bowler, dismantling the stumps of three batsmen, while Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav also played their roles in delivering South Africa's heaviest World Cup defeat.
Kohli's unbeaten 101, featuring 10 fours, drew him level with the iconic Sachin Tendulkar on 49 one-day international centuries. His excellent form pushed his tournament run tally beyond 500.
Describing the significance of the match, Kohli said, "It was a big game. We were playing probably the toughest team in the tournament. They've played some amazing cricket, so there was this motivation of wanting to do well for the team."
With both India and South Africa already securing their spots in the semi-finals, Sunday's game was seen as a potential dress rehearsal for the title clash. India asserted their dominance early, securing their eighth consecutive victory and claiming the top spot in the standings.
India's decision to bat first after winning the toss paid off, capitalising on erratic pace bowling from Marco Jansen. However, Rohit Sharma's explosive 40 off 24 balls came to an end when he attempted to launch Kagiso Rabada over mid-off.
After reaching 91-1 in the powerplay, the home side faced challenges from South Africa's spinners, with opener Shubman Gill falling for 23 to an unplayable delivery from Keshav Maharaj in the 11th over.
Reflecting on the match, Rohit Sharma noted, "The first 10 overs with the ball made it a challenge. We did well after that. The biggest challenge was taking wickets, and India built big stands. The conditions are the biggest learning. The wicket played as we suspected it to play. We expected it to deteriorate, but we didn't adapt well."