Media say India on track to defend World Cup title

India's Shikhar Dhawan played a controlled innings of 137 against South Africa Image copyright AP
Image caption India's Shikhar Dhawan played a controlled innings of 137 against South Africa

Papers say India's dominating win over South Africa has made them a "serious contender" for the World Cup trophy.

Most previews gave India only an outside chance before the game and considered the Proteas a superior team.

But the defending champions were convincing and clinical in their 130-run win over South Africa.

India's target of 307 was built around Shikhar Dhawan's 137, while Ajinkya Rahane made 79 off 60 balls and Virat Kohli 46.

"India is really on the move now; they played brilliant all-round cricket to annihilate South Africa and prove that the win over Pakistan wasn't just an emotion charged performance," writes former Australian captain Ian Chappell in the Hindustan Times.

He adds that "India has firmly placed its name in the top four as far as favourites are concerned, along with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and it's also given its title defence some teeth".

Papers are full of praise for Dhawan, who anchored India's innings to set a formidable target for the Proteas.

"He scored his highest ODI score while playing probably the most entertaining innings of his career. His 137 from 146 balls gave India its second win of the tournament, the first over South Africa in a World Cup," says The Indian Express.

Image copyright Hindustan Times
Image copyright The Asian Age
Image copyright The New Indian Express

Sports writers have also praised India's "average" bowling attack for rising to the occassion.

"The total seemed a bit smaller than India would have liked but the Indian bowlers stepped up to the plate, using the pressure of the big score and the massive support from the stands to stifle South Africa's stroke-players with well-directed attack," writes The Times of India.

Budget reforms

In some economic news, papers say hopes are high that the government will announce "big bang" reforms in this year's budget.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the budget in the parliament on 28 February.

No major economic reforms were announced in the first budget under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has promised to revive India's sluggish economy.

"Expectation is riding high on the budget to detail the roadmap on how the government plans to deliver on some of its poll promises, soothe the frayed nerves of investors and deal with the growing aspirations of a restive young population," the Hindustan Times says.

The Times of India says with the "inflation trending lower" and "current account deficit under control", the stage is set for "bold moves which will push the economy into high gear".

The paper also adds that Mr Jaitley has a "chance to make a dramatic beginning" and taking measures to make India an easier place to do business.

Classified documents

And finally, papers welcome the government's seriousness in investigating a case involving the leak of classified documents.

Twelve people have been arrested so far for allegedly leaking classified government documents to energy companies for money.

The arrested include government officials and employees of top energy firms, and journalists, according to the police.

"That the government looks serious on investigating pilferage of classified documents belonging to petroleum and other infrastructure ministries is welcome news indeed," The Times of India says.

The paper adds that "corporate espionage poses a serious challenge to the government's regulatory framework and damages efforts to create a level playing field for businesses".

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