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Kohli is full of pride after Dhawan's ton inspires India victory

 

Big hitter: India’s Shikhar Dhawan on his way to a superb century
Big hitter: India’s Shikhar Dhawan on his way to a superb century

By Rory Dollard

Shikhar Dhawan's composed century drove India to a 36-run World Cup win over Australia where captain Virat Kohli and veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni both played peacemaker.

Dhawan's 117 steered India to 352 for five, their fourth-highest World Cup total, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar claiming three wickets for 50 runs and Jasprit Bumrah three for 61 as Australia were dismissed for 316.

Aaron Finch's men never threatened the record World Cup chase required for victory, even though Steve Smith mustered 69 and David Warner 56.

India skipper Kohli posted a punchy 82 and also ordered his fans to stop booing Australia's Smith, who is still receiving abuse about his now-served ban for ball tampering.

Kohli said: "A top, top win for us - especially after losing the series (against Australia) in India. We had a point to prove. They are playing really good cricket in the two games.

"We came with intent. The opening partnership was outstanding, I got runs, Hardik got runs, MS. It was the perfect game for us. We were very professional again and that pleases you again as a captain."

Australia captain Finch reflected: "They got 120 runs off the last 10 overs which is a lot. We didn't bowl our best stuff and struggled to get wickets early on.

"I think it being a used surface didn't help with the new ball, there wasn't a huge amount on offer. But we could have been a bit straighter, that's tough because you want to get wickets early as they bat very deep.

"It was just one of those games, they just outplayed us."

Former captain Dhoni knocked 27 from 14 balls in a neat cameo, but gained most attention for keeping wicket without the Indian army dagger symbol on his gloves.

India's wicketkeeper was reprimanded by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for wearing the army insignia during the opening World Cup win over South Africa, and warned not to display the symbol again.

Dhoni is an honorary lieutenant colonel of India's territorial army and so enjoys the privilege of sporting the symbol on his kit. But the 37-year-old opted to avoid a collision course with tournament chiefs at The Oval, removing that army livery from his gloves in the field.

The controversial 'Zing' bails failed to fall for the fifth time in the tournament too, Warner getting the break despite playing Bumrah onto his own stumps.

The ICC insist the light-up bails do not even weigh as much as the heavy bails regularly used in high winds. But the frequency of stumps being hit without bails falling has confounded many top players and observers.

Bumrah pressed on undeterred however, claiming the timely wicket of Usman Khawaja in another fine seam bowling performance.

India's second successive win in the competition forced Australia into a first defeat in their third match.

Rohit Sharma backed up his unbeaten 122 against South Africa with a smart 57, as India racked up a sizeable score without ever truly cutting loose at the crease.

Kohli's 82 means he now boasts 91 scores of 50 and higher since his 2008 ODI debut, with Kumar Sangakkara the next closest with 66.

The superstar skipper's powers even apparently extend to conducting India's fervent fans.

The Indian followers dished out heavy boos to former Australia captain Smith when he went to field on the boundary.

India's captain knew immediately what the fuss was about, waving at the supporters and ordering them to clap instead. They responded to his appeal.

Smith thanked Kohli on the field for the gesture, and this proved to be a match played in the right spirit.

Meanwhile, Kagiso Rabada is hopeful South Africa can draw a line under a desperate past couple of weeks as they look to reignite their World Cup charge against the West Indies in Southampton.

Three successive defeats have left the beleaguered Proteas in the last chance saloon, with another setback almost certain to rule them out of contention for the knockout stages.

"It's a bit of a weird stage in terms of for the Proteas and cricket in South Africa," said Rabada. "We've been playing good cricket so, hopefully, in this tournament, we can do more of the same.

"There's been a lot happening off the field and we're just looking to clear that out of our heads. But it's been enjoyable."

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