Saturday, March 12, 2011

World Cup 2011 : India vs South Africa...

India took on South Africa at Nagpur today, in what has been billed as one of the most explosive matches of the tournament. A win for India would give them a definite top berth in the quarterfinals, & a win for the Proteas, would give them the necessary turn around after their shocking loss to England, & help remove the tag of Chockers.
India won the toss & chose to bat first, on what looked like a flat track. Sachin & Sehwag were in a murderous mood, as they went hammer & tongs against the South African attack. Runs flowed like a gushing river, as Steyn, Morkel, Kallis, all were blown apart to all corners of the ground. 50 runs came in just the 7th over, & 100 came in the 12th over. Sehwag had raced to his fifty in just 44 balls, & Sachin too went past the same, in only 33balls.  When Sehwag was bowled, trying a lazy cut, it was 142 for 1 in the 18th over. Gambhir came in & he too settled into a good rhythm. At the 2nd drinks interval, India was sitting pretty at 215 runs for 1, in 32 overs, as runs piled on relentlessly. Sachin eventually got his 48th ODI hundred & 99th overall, in the 36th over, as the crowd roared in delight. Gambhir got his fifty in the very next delivery, as the hapless South Africans looked on. The 100 partnership came in 115 balls, as the score now read 243 for 1 in 37 overs. What a wonderful launching pad for batsmen to follow. Tendulkar finally relented, getting out to Morkel, at point for a brilliant 111 in 101 balls. With Batting Powerplays on, in came Yusuf Pathan. In the very next over, Gambhir too holed out in the deep. Next to go was Pathan for a duck, with Smith plucking out a catch at mid off. Yuvi hoicked a big six off Botha, but attempting another, holed out at long off. The powerplays yielded just 30 runs but importantly conceded 4 wickets for India. the score now 283 for 5 in 43 overs. Virat Kohli got caught & bowled to Peterson, as the score slid to 286 for 6. Wickets kept tumbling one after the other in a shocking heap, & India got shot out for 296 all out in 48.4 overs. They were 266 for 1 at one stage & looked good to cross at least 350, & most inexplicably got all out for 296......9 wickets for just 30 runs, how more bizarre could it get!!!!!. Dale Steyn picked up 5 wickets for 50 runs. South Africa went into the innings break, feeling much better, after the pounding they took from Sachin, Sehwag & Gambhir early on.

In reply, South Africa needed a solid start & thats waht they aimed at, as Smith & Amla walked in. Zaheer as usual was very accurate & runs were hard to come by. Smith was consumed by Zaheer in the 9th over, bunny as usual. Amla & Kallis steadied the innings, both getting their half centuries & took the score past 100, but the run rate kept increasing, as runs were a toil & Indians seemed determined. However AB de Villiers came in & the score started to get a move on, as he too got a well deserved fifty. He fell to a brilliant catch in the deep by Kohli, as he threatened to take the match away from the Indians. Every wicket down was getting cheered by the capacity crowd, but each batsmen looked determined to fight, & no one looked like panicking, which has been the bane of the Proteas over the years. While the run rate mounted to over 9 an over, the batsmen still kept their cool & did nothing stupid. It was as if the Proteas batting had a clear game plan, which they executed to near perfection. At the end of 47th over, South Africa still needed 31 runs, & they had Botha & du Plessis in the middle. Botha hit Patel for 14 runs in the 48th over, but was caught out by a brilliant Raina in the deep, leaving the target of 17 runs from 12. In the next over, Zaheer was cool as a cucumber & conceded only 4 runs. Dhoni chose Nehra to bowl the final over as 13 runs were needed. But Nehra disappointed, as Peterson smote him all around with two boundaries & a six & the Proteas had romped home with 2 balls to spare. They had put the chokers tag to rest, at least for some time into the future now.
This loss should hurt India, as they seemed to be determined to lose. Barring the first 30 odd overs of the match, when Sachin, Sehwag & Gambhir were toying with the bowling, the Indians were just not in the game. Contrastingly, while India lost 4 wickets for a mere 30 runs in the batting powerplay, the South Africans scored 52 runs losing just 1 wicket. In a battle of nerves & Chokers tag, the Proteas had prevailed over the Indians.

India's bowling & fielding was always a worry, but now its famed batting is also showing nervous signs of brittleness. Its ok to lose a match, but manner of loss should hurt the Indians. Dhoni would have to do something special to rejuvenate the unit. For Sachin, it was one more century wasted in a losing cause. He along with Sehwag & later Zaheer were the only Indians today who were at par on the ground.

Man of the Match : Dale Steyn for his 5 wickets haul to orchestrate the Indian batting collapse & bring the Proteas back in the game.

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