A near perfect India crushed South Africa on Sunday and propelled the defending Champions Trophy title holders into the tournament semi-finals.
India were ruthless with bat, ball and in the field to eliminate the Proteas with a comprehensive eight-wicket win at The Oval.
Three dire run-outs and a dramatic collapse of 8-51 left South Africa with only 191 to defend on a fine pitch under rare blue skies in London.
A total that size was never going to challenge India’s star-studded batting unit, who chased down the target through Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli with a whopping 72 balls to spare.
India now likely play Bangladesh in Birmingham on Thursday, while South Africa will begin early preparations for their four-Test series against England starting next month.
The victory was built around a brilliant bowling and fielding performance after Kohli sent the Proteas in to bat upon winning the toss.
Opening pair Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla were resolute against the new ball, inching their way to 35 for no loss by the tenth over.
The duo’s cautious start reached 76 when Amla edged a cut stroke from the bowling of recalled off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Gloveman MS Dhoni made no mistake with the hot chance.
De Kock powered on and reached his 14th ODI half-century but was out three runs later when he missed a sweep and was castled by Ashwin’s partner in crime Ravindra Jadeja.
Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers pushed the score to 2-140 before chaos violently interrupted South Africa’s innings.
A risky quick single to point proved fatal for the Proteas skipper, who despite a desperate dive was caught short of his ground by the lightning gloves of Dhoni.
Five balls later a mix-up between David Miller and du Plessis resulted in both batsman clambering towards the same end. Du Plessis got their first as Miller was run out by the length of the pitch.
From there, India were ruthless.
Du Plessis failed to avenge his stranded batting partners, bowled by Hardik Pandya for 36 in remarkably similar fashion to his dismissal against Pakistan last Wednesday.
South Africa’s final five batters contributed just 15 between them, a total that was eclipsed by the innings’ extras.
All five India bowlers picked up at least one wicket while the Proteas’ third run out ended the innings with 33 balls in the bank.
As far as run chases go, India’s pursuit of 192 was as routine as they come.
Towering quick Morne Morkel can hold his head high after achieving what few bowlers can lay claim to in the past two Champions Trophies tournaments when he broke India’s prolific opening partnership in its infancy by removing Rohit Sharma for just 12 in the sixth over.
By the time South Africa next enjoyed some success it was the 31st over with India needing only 40 runs to win.
Dhawan’s love affair with the Champions Trophy continued as he pulverised the Proteas to all parts of The Oval.
Twelve fours and a sole maximum hummed from the left-hander’s blade, each boundary bringing wild celebration from the packed crowd drenched in India blue.
It was a breeze for Dhawan, as it was for his skipper, who chewed up the deficit like a batsman starved for runs.
Kohli was measured, waiting 25 balls to play his first expansive stroke – a mighty six, high and handsome, straight down the ground.
Like clockwork, Kohli and Dhawan accumulated the runs required with an unfussed regularity that left de Villiers scratching his head as to how to conjure a breakthrough.
A wicket finally fell – Dhawan, out as he mistimed Imran Tahir but by then, at 2-151, the game was as good as over.
Kohli and Yuvraj Singh polished off the remaining runs to enter the semi-finals with some runs under the belt, time in the middle and a whole heap of confidence.
Champions Trophy 2017 Guide
Squads: Every Champions Trophy nation
2 June – New Zealand v Australia, No Result
4 June – India beat Pakistan by 124 runs
5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, No Result
6 June – England beat New Zealand by 87 runs
11 June – India beat South Africa by eight wickets
12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)
14 June – First semi-final (England v B2), Cardiff (D)
15 June – Second semi-final (Bangladesh v B1), Edgbaston (D)
18 June – Final, The Oval (D)
19 June – Reserve day (D)