Tuesday, March 15, 2011

South Africa snatches victory from India

South Africa stunned India to win a thrilling World Cup match played at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur, (VCA) on March 12. VCA was transformed into a virtual coliseum as thousands of home fans and a host of celebrities urged their men on to pluck their archrivals, the Proteas, off their guts.

The crowd got their money worth, or so they thought, until the last over of match when Robin Peterson punished Ashish Nehra to guide the South Africans home, after surpassing the required 13 runs off the last over by three runs with two balls remaining. The crowd was heartbroken but the two South African men at the crease were ecstatic. They had every reason to rejoice after pulling off a dramatic win, a win that started taking shape when India moved from 267-1 in 39.3 overs to 296 all out in 48.4 overs.

India had a great start. After winning the toss and opting to bat first, the openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar treated the crowd to a runs carnivore. The two raced to 87 runs in the mandatory powerplays of the first 10 overs. South Africa was desperate for a wicket after trying all tricks but having to watch the ball run past the covers now and then. They were relieved in the eighteenth over when Faf du Plesis castled the dangerous Sehwag (73).

The Proteas thought the situation could change with the coming of the new man Gautam Gambhir but runs frenzy continued. And Indians couldn't have asked for more especially after reaching 267-1 with more than 10 overs to go. With their hitting squad still flexing their muscles in the dressing room, a score close to 400 was in cards. The situation just right, and India opted to go for batting powerplay. That's when hell broke loose.

The master blaster departed a few balls into the powerplay when he attempted to get a maximum from Morne Morkel's delivery but it ran out of power at point where J.P. Duminy accepted a precious catch. In the following over, Gambhir perished, caught by Jacques Kallis, bowled by Steyn. And that was the beginning of Indian collapse and Steyn's bonanza. Out of nowhere, Steyn went on to get a 5 wicket haul, his other victims being Yusuf Pathan (0), Harbhajan Singh (3), Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel, both who departed for ducks.

The crowd watched in disbelief as Indian inning folded in a heap with captain M. S. Dhoni holed up at non strikers end. But chasing 297 was still a massive challenge and it was up to South Africa to try and wrestle the initiative.

Their chase was rather shaky. Their run rate was on the slow side and suffered a blow when Smith (16) was dismissed in the ninth over. Hashim Amla and Kallis then embarked on pace setting, both adding 86 runs for the second wicket until Amla was caught behind by Dhoni off Harbhajan in the twenty-eight over. AB de Villiers then joined Kallis at the crease when the run rate was steadily climbing and India holding the key to the match. Kallis was run out in the thirty-sixth over thanks to a great piece of work from Dhoni.

De Villiers lasted only 39 balls but he made a valuable 52 before. His successors JP Duminy (23) and Morne van Wyk (5) didn't last as long as South Africa could have wished. Duminy had a tough time dealing with Harbhajan's spin, and he was Harbhajan's third wicket of the day.

India were still in command especially after Johan (25) perished in the forty-eighth over but it was Peterson who held his nerve to get two valuable boundaries off the last over and give his team a sensational victory.

Brief Scores: South Africa 300-8 (Kallis 69, Amla 61, De Villiers 52, Harbhajan 3-53) beat India 296 all-out in 48.4 overs (Tendulkar 111, Sehwag 73, Gambhir 69, Steyn 5-50) by three wickets with two balls remaining.

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