Southampton, India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday lauded Rohit Sharma’s match-wining hundred against South Africa in challenging conditions.
India, who had to wait for long to play their first game, outplayed South Africa by six wickets to begin their World Cup campaign on an emphatic note.
“The wait was very long and then you get a game like this where it was challenging throughout. From our point of view it was important to start on the right note. We might not have had the run rate, but if you look at how the game went and how the pitch behaved, it was challenging,” said Kohli at the post-match presentation.
“Hats off to Rohit, his innings was special. And also the guys who batted around him. I would say it’s a professional win.”
India next face Australia at The Oval on Sunday.
“The first win is always important. On the field, we were confident as a group. With the bat, we had to work our way through because of the attack they have. That’s where Rohit’s innings was very very special. You need experienced guys to stand up. “One of the top three getting a hundred is something we bank on. KL (Rahul) batted really well with him. Then MS (Dhoni) showed great composure. Hardik finished well too. He looks in a good headspace,” he added.
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis said India put up a professional performance and the absence of injured pacers like Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi hurt them.
“Their bowling was magnificent, they have got good fast bowlers and spinners. We did well to pull it back with the bat before their spinners ran through our middle order.
“Rohit (dropped twice) had a bit of luck but he did what we didn’t do – get a hundred and win the game.”
On electing to bat, he added: “The build-up to the match, the info said, a lot of runs were scored, and the make-up of our team, with the fast-bowling resources gone, we went with spin. If we had Steyn and Ngidi, we would have the chance to attack with overcast conditions.
“Ours is a change room that is hurting, trying to make sure we keep fighting but we are making mistakes all the time.”
It was South Africa’s third loss in as many games.