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World Cup 2011 – South Africa vs India: South Africa Stun India In Last-over Finish

By on March 12, 2011

South Africa 300 for 7 (Kallis 69, Amla 61, de Villiers 52) beat India 296 all out (Tendulkar 111, Steyn 5-50) by three wickets…

In one of the show-pieces matches of the 2011 World Cup, South Africa beat India by three wickets in a thrilling last-over finish at the Jamtha Stadium. Robin Peterson was SA’s hero, scoring 13 runs of th final over by Ashish Nehra, including a French cut for four and a massive six over midwicket off the first two balls.

Sachin Tendulkar’s brisk 110 — his sixth in the World Cup, 48th in ODIs and 99th in international cricket — and his two big century stands with Virender Sehwag (73) and Gautam Gambhir (69) took India to 267-1 before an astonishing collapse led by Dale Steyn’s 5-50 saw India fold for 296 when they looked good for 350-plus for much of the innings.

South Africa seemed forever behind the required rate but were placed well to chase it down with fifties from Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers. But AB fell to Harbhajan in the final over of the batting Powerplay, allowing India the slightest advantage in the see-sawing game.

Zaheer Khan (with a first spell of 7 overs 1-17) managed to keep SA to four runs in the penultimate over, leaving them 13 to get. Nehra then conceded four, six, two and four in four balls to Peterson. MS Dhoni always goes to fast bowlers in last-over finishes but he paid with the match for his choice today.

Awe-inspiring Batting

It seemed like Centurion 2003 all over again. Sehwag and Tendulkar gave India’s fans the ingredient missing from their lack-lustre World Cup campaign: the intent of hammering the opposition into pulp.

For the fifth straight time, Sehwag hit the first ball of the match for four, lofting Steyn over mid-on. In the next over, Morne van Wyk did a Kamran, not going to his right for a standard caught-behind off Sehwag. A life earned, India made South Africa bleed.

It seemed Tendulkar’s 22-year-old self was batting today as he went after the bowling with awe-inspiring regularity. Pace or spin, front-foot or back, in the air or along the ground, he was in the mood to dominate as he completed a fifty off 33 balls.

An overthrow for four got his innings going. Then came a full-blooded punch to Morne Morkel down the ground and a drive through the covers on the up. When Steyn returned for a new spell, a bouncer was hooked into the gutters behind fine-leg.

Such was the Indian assault, Graeme Smith had used seven bowlers by the 18th over. At the other end, Sehwag took five fours off Morkel. Kallis couldn’t stop the bleeding either so Smith had to call Robin Peterson and JP Duminy to bowl spin in the Powerplay. That ploy flopped too.

Sehwag made room to crash them through the off-side. The tense left-arm spinner responded by bowling a couple of wides down the leg. When Duminy switched to around the wicket, Tendulkar walked down to hit a towering six wide of long-on.

After 15 overs into the innings, India were sitting pretty at 128-0. Five years ago on this very day, Australia had taken 434 runs off South Africa in the famous game at Johannesburg. It seemed a similar score would be achieved today. And then started India’s slide.

The Meltdown

Tendulkar roared into the 80s and then took a rickshaw to the hundred. This was the period when India allowed South Africa back in the game. After Sehwag played on, India were at a robust 155-1 in 20. After 30, they had reached just 197-1. Landmarks were eventually reached but at the cost of the momentum.

Johan Botha’s spell brought about a slowdown. Tendulkar played out 13 dots to the spinner while Gambhir played 14. While Indian batsmen are infinitely skilled at scoring boundaries, it is turning the strike that has been a problem for them in this tournament.

In the game against England, India played a monstrous 146 dot balls. Today, they played 141. What broke India’s back was the batting Powerplay. India scored just 30 runs and lost four wickets. In reponse, South Africa had just 124 dots. In hindsight, getting bowled out with eight balls left also hurt India’s chances.

Still, 300 was possible had India batted sensibly. The problem was that India had their sights on 350 and were trying to hit everything out of the ground. Hence deliveries that could have fetched easy singles were being hit firmly to fielders in the ring.

The boundaries at the Jamtha Stadium are large ones and twos can be scored easily as South Africa showed late in the game when they managed double-digit overs without taking risks. This fact was lost on India.

Then, the tail-enders decided to go over the top and more wickets fell in a heap. Dhoni was stranded on 12 and India had lost nine wickets in a span of 29 runs. But the blame would be put on India’s bowlers. And the batsmen will be forgiven.

An aside: Tendulkar’s 100th hundred would be a mind-boggling feat, perhaps comparable to Pele’s 1000th goal. But for the team’s sake, let’s hope it doesn’t arrive in one of the knock-out matches.

Source: Yahoo Cricket

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