Cardiff, Jun 6 : India opened its ICC Champions Trophy campaign with a 26 -run victory over South Africa at the Sophia Gardens here today, with a century by Shikhar Dhawan on his ODI debut.
Dhawan's maiden ODI century and his 127-run opening stand with Rohit Sharma propelled India to a commanding 331 for seven in their opening match
In reply, South Africa fought till the end, and were all out for 305 runs on the last ball. Indian bowlers took over and demolished the Proteas batting order, with only Ryan McLaren, A B De Villiers and Peterson holding fort .
Robin Peterson was run out by Dhoni for 68 off Jadeja's ball, while De Villiers made 70, caught by Jadeja off Umesh Yadav. .
Yadav also took Hashik Amla's wicket, with Dhoni taking the catch behind when the South African was on 22.
Ryan McLaren continued to hold the fort till the end and was unbeaten on 71. Morkel was clean bowled for 8 off the last ball of the 50th over by Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. And this, India's agonising wait for the win was over.
Earlier, India were put into bat after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni lost the toss in an overcast and chilly morning.
If South Africa can chase down the Indian total, it will be a record at this venue. The highest successful chase here is 258 for three by Australia against Pakistan in a NatWest series match in 2001.
Interestingly, all the seven completed ODIs here have been won by the team batting second.
The morning session belonged to Dhawan. He was third out in the 38th over after scoring a well-paced 114, studded with 12 fours and a six. The only 'life' in his 94-ball innings came immediately after he scored his century. A B De Villiers missed a stumping chance after the left-hander stepped out to off-spinner J P Duminy and missed the line.
That blemish apart, Dhawan was the toast of the Indian crowd, almost 70 per cent of the 16000-strong turnout.
After he got his eye in, the Delhi batsman batted with gay abandon, often stepping out to find the little gaps in a tight off-side field. When he was on 45, Dhawan was struck on his helmet after failing to shy away from a Ryan McLaren bouncer.
A cut behind his right ear didn't deter the gutsy batsman, who raced to his second ODI 50 in 44 balls.
After Sharma got out for 65, Dhawan featured in a 83-run second wicket partnership with Virat Kohli (31 off 41 balls) as he held the innings together till he perished in the 38th over trying to sweep Duminy but only managing to find substitute fielder Aaron Phangiso at square leg.
Interestingly, in the last six years only two left-handers have made ODI hundreds against the South Africans. Kumar Sangakkara did it in Johannesburg in January 2012 and it was Dhawan's turn today.