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India score maiden Test win in South Africa
Deepti Patwardhan | December 18, 2006 16:46 IST
Headingley, Adelaide, Jamaica, Johannesburg.
India are still not the best of travellers in the cricket world, but these four memorable overseas victories in the last four years stand out like beacons of hope.
Buoyed by the enthusiasm of S Sreesanth and the guile of Anil Kumble, the Indians cantered to a historic 123-run victory over South Africa at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Monday.
After winning the Test series in the West Indies in July for the first time since 1971 -- the first outside the subcontinent for 20 years -- India tasted its maiden Test success in South Africa.
South Africa's Ashwell Prince fell three runs short of a hundred as South Africa were bowled out for 278 while chasing a victory target of 402.
Experienced batsmen Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman had earlier helped India to 249 in the first innings and 236 in the second respectively.
The second Test begins in Durban on December 26.
Zaheer Khan gave India the perfect start, scalping Mark Boucher in the third over of the day. The ball pitched on leg and skidded onto Boucher's pads to trap him leg before wicket.
But Shaun Pollock, who reached the mark of 400 Test wickets in India's second innings, did not let the early wicket hold him back. He started with a flick off his toes for four and scored 22 runs, including a six off Zaheer, in the first nine balls he faced.
With some help from the sedate Prince, Pollock plundered 29 runs in three overs from the left-arm paceman. The South African all-rounder upset the rhythm of the Indian bowlers with his brisk innings of 40 from 41 balls.
The Pollock-Prince partnership, the highest and most positive of the South African innings, cost India 67runs in 14 overs.
Knowing that Prince is a compulsive hooker, the Indian bowlers persisted with the short stuff, but ended up overdoing it. VRV Singh, in particular, struggled to keep the ball on the stumps and was taken for 34 runs in his first five overs.
The left-handed Prince survived another close call when he Mahendra Singh Dhoni failed to come under the top-edge off Singh.
Though South Africa came up with a much-improved performance in the second innings, Anil Kumble crushed the semblance of a chance with three quick wickets. The home batsmen looked all at sea against the ace leg-spinner.
Kumble got the ball to sneak between the bat-pad of Pollock and Prince and trapped Andre Nel leg before in front of the off-stump with a delivery that kicked up.
Pollock, going down on one knee, missed a straighter one from Kumble and the ball just clipped the bails.
Prince, who had concentrated hard for almost five hours, was done in by a fuller one from Kumble just three runs short of his hundred. In a low-scoring game, he contributed with 24 and 97 and was the only South African batsman who showed the patience to graft out the runs.
Zaheer completed the last rites when Sehwag held a skier from Makhaya Ntini. The left-arm paceman, playing his first Test since February, bagged three wickets in the innings.
Though Sreesanth didn't take a wicket on the fourth morning, he finished with eight wickets in the match. He complimented the maiden five-wicket haul in the first innings with three for 59 in the second to lead India to a memorable victory. He was deservedly named man of the match.
India's tour of South Africa 2006: The Complete Coverage
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