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India knock-out South Africa to make semis
September 21, 2007 01:44 IST
India romped into the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup after comprehensively beating South Africa by 37 runs in the concluding Super Eights match of the tournament in Durban on Thursday.
R P Singh turned in a superb bowling performance, claiming four wickets for 13 runs after Rohit Sharma's unbeaten 50 bailed the team out from a precarious position, to enable India top its group ahead of New Zealand [Images] and South Africa on run-rate.
South Africa could have made it to Saturday's semi-finals had they put up at least 125 on the board, but chasing India's total of 153 for 5 they could only muster 116 for 9 in their 20 overs.
Winning the toss and deciding to bat first, India were in dire straits at 33 for three in the sixth over, but an 85-run stand for the fifth wicket between Sharma and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] propped the team to a fighting total.
The 20-year old Sharma, who made his debut just 24 hours ago against England but did not get to bat, batted sensibly and with controlled aggression to remain unbeaten on 50. He posted his half century in style, pulling the last ball of the innings from Johan van der Wath for a six over square leg. He faced 40 balls and hit seven fours and two sixes.
Dhoni, who came in at number six, batted in customary fashion to score a quickfire 45 off 33 balls before being run-out in the final over. He hit four fours and one six.
India's fifth wicket pair took 55 balls to add 85 crucial runs.
Shaun Pollock [Images] (2/17) was the most successful bowler for South Africa.
In a sensational turnaround, India lost three wickets -- those of Gambhir (19), Dinesh Karthik (0) and Sehwag (11) -- in four balls and were reeling at 33 for 3.
Gambhir tried to go over the top off Pollock but succeeded only in presenting an easy catch to Graeme Smith [Images] at mid-off in the fifth over.
Karthik, who came in next, was out first ball, flicking Pollock straight to square leg.
Then, in the next over, Sehwag edged Ntini to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher [Images].
Robin Uthappa (15) began audaciously with a pulled six off Johan van der Wath in the eighth over before being dropped off the same bowler in his next over when Vernon Philander grassed a skier at mid-on. He celebrated his escape by hitting the bowler over cover for another boundary.
However, his innings was cut short in the 11th over when he hit Albie Morkel to mid-off only to find the ball sail into the hands of Graeme Smith.
At 61 for four in the 11th over, Sharma and Dhoni joined forces to give the total some respectability.
The pair kept the score board moving and punished the bad balls before turning on the heat in the last four overs that realised 52 runs.
Morne Morkel went for 18 runs in the 17th over, Dhoni hitting him for a six over mid-wicket.
The next over from van der Wath produced 12 runs as Sharma hit his first six over mid-wicket.
The pair struck some handy boundaries in the death before Sharma ended the innings in style, pulling van der Wath for the maximum to complete his maiden half-century.
Defending a not-so-impressive target, the Indian bowlers decided to have a go at the hosts and R P Singh led the way with a two-wicket burst in his first over.
His first delivery trapped Herschelle Gibbs [Images] (1) and the fourth kissed Graeme Smith's blade before nestling into the gloves of an airborne Karthik, who dived full length to his left to pull off an absolute stunner.
South Africa had slumped to 12 for two and the worse was yet to come.
S Sreesanth [Images] then joined the party and AB de Villiers was beaten by the pace as the delivery struck his pad in front of the wicket and Simon Taufel had no qualms upholding the appeal.
Lot depended on Justin Kemp (5) but Rohit Sharma's brilliant piece of fielding meant it was not to be his day.
Boucher had pushed it to off-side and set out for a single when the fielder swooped on the ball and broke the stumps with a direct hit with Kemp yet to make his ground.
And it was double whammy in the sixth over as R P Singh crashed the fifth delivery through Shaun Pollock's (0) gate. The hosts had lost top half of their batting order with the score reading a mere 31.
Boucher (36, 41b, 4x4) and Morkel (36,) stemmed the rot with Boucher, hitting Harbhajan Singh [Images] for three fours in a row in the 13th over. However, in the 17th over, he dragged a Sreesanth delivery onto his stumps to end the 69-run stand.
Harbhajan had Vernon Philander stumped in the next over and R P Singh then returned to dismiss Morkel and end South Africa's hopes.