South Africa beat India in a thriller

South African players celebrate after their win over India

By Manoj Vatsyayana

Nagpur: Mar 13, 2011

South Africa backed up paceman Dale Steyn’s five-wicket burst with their batting depth to end India’s winning run with a thrilling three-wicket victory in the World Cup on Saturday.

Needing 13 to win in the last over off seamer Ashish Nehra, South Africa found an unlikely star in Robin Peterson who plundered 16 runs off the first four balls to help his side achieve a 297-run target. India looked set to post a mammoth total when they reached 267-1 following Sachin Tendulkar’s brilliant 111 for his 48th one-day hundred, but lost their last nine wickets for just 29 runs in nine overs to be bowled out for 296.

Man of the match Steyn (5-50) played a key role in his team’s fightback to bag his maiden five-wicket haul in one-day internationals. India, who had been hoping to wrap up a quarter-final place, still top Group B with seven points from five matches. They are followed by West Indies (6/4), South Africa (6/4), England (5/5) and Bangladesh (4/4) as the pool heads for a thrilling conclusion in the final week of first round games.

“For 15 overs up front we took an absolute beating but for 75 we played some incredible cricket,” said South Africa skipper Graeme Smith who was criticised last weekend for not being able to chase down a 172-run target to beat England. “Chasing 300 on that deck, second innings was a hell of an effort from the guys and I think we’re all pretty speechless at the moment.” India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni defended his team’s tactics in the latter part of their innings when wickets collapsed and runs dried up.

“You don’t play for the crowds. They always want you to hit sixes and fours,” he said. “It’s always better that the batsmen play the overs, delay the slog a bit and get maybe a par score and don’t look for that extra 20 or 25 runs.” Jacques Kallis (69), Hashim Amla (61), AB de Villiers (52), Faf du Plessis (25 not out) and JP Duminy (23) also contributed to South Africa’s win.

Tendulkar earlier dominated the South African attack, cracking three sixes and eight fours in a 101-ball knock.
He now needs just one more century to become the first player to score 100 international hundreds, having already made 51 in Test cricket. South Africa’s attack came under pressure for the first time in four matches as Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag (73) and Gautam Gambhir (69) comfortably gathered runs against pace and spin, much to the delight of a capacity crowd.

India made the most of winning the toss on an easy-paced pitch as Sehwag and Tendulkar provided an explosive 142-run start off just 17.4 overs. Gambhir continued the good work, adding 125 for the second wicket with Tendulkar. Sehwag, who survived on four and 70, hammered 12 fours in his 66-ball knock. He began his fifth successive innings with a four when he lofted Steyn over mid-on.

He had a lucky escape in the next over, his edge off paceman Morne Morkel flying past wicket-keeper Morne van Wyk. Sehwag did not curb his strokes after the let-off, smashing Steyn for two more boundaries and then punishing Morkel for three fours in an over as India raced to 50 off just 41 balls. Runs flowed from both the ends as Tendulkar also fluently drove Morkel through the covers and then straight-drove the next delivery for two successive fours.

Tendulkar offered a difficult chance on 47 when he lofted left-arm spinner Peterson over extra cover but de Villiers, running in from long-off, failed to hold on to the ball even after making a fine diving effort.