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South Africa hand India humiliating defeat
Harish Kotian in Ahmedabad | April 05, 2008 12:25 IST
Last Updated: April 05, 2008 18:58 IST
The batting once again failed to live up to expectations as India went down to South Africa by an innings and 90 runs on Day 3 of the second Test in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
The home team, dismissed for 328 in the final session of the day, trail the three-match series 0-1, the first Test in Chennai having ended in a draw.
Sourav Ganguly top-scored in India's second innings with a gritty 87 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni made a scratchy 52, but the rest of the batsmen failed to deliver.
Dale Steyn claimed three wickets for 91 to end up with eight wickets from the match.
Makhaya Ntini took three vital wickets for 44 runs, while Morne Morkel contributed with two for 87.
This was South Africa's biggest win in India, bettering the earlier record of an innings and 71 runs at Bangalore in 2000.
Earlier, South Africa declared their first innings at the overnight score of 494 for 7, with Abraham de Villiers unbeaten on 217. In reply, the Indian batsmen again capitulated tamely against South Africa's opening bowlers.
They were struggling at 70 for 3 at one stage but VVS Laxman (35) and Ganguly added 55 runs for the fourth wicket to prop the innings. Laxman fell for 35, and despite Ganguly and Dhoni adding 66 runs for the fifth wicket later, there was not much India could do to deny the tourists victory.
Morning session: (95 runs, 25 overs, 3 wickets)
The start of play was delayed by half an hour because of Friday evening's heavy rain. There were a few damp areas in the outfield and the South Africans made a detailed inspection of the conditions before declaring at their overnight score of 494 for 7, with Abraham de Villiers unbeaten on 217.
Facing a huge deficit of 418 runs, India started off positively as Virender Sehwag smashed two sixes off the opening over from Dale Steyn. The Indian opener gave a clear indication that he would not allow the bowlers to dictate terms though one wondered how long he could continue his aggression.
Both Steyn and Makhaya Ntini got a good amount of carry from the pitch, making it difficult for the batsmen. Sehwag was lucky when he survived a close leg before wicket appeal against Ntini in the fourth over, but fell four overs later, trapped leg before wicket, this time plumb in front of the stumps.
Once again his tentative footwork brought about his downfall, as he was hit on the pads in the line of the stumps by an incoming delivery from Ntini and was out for 17.
Rahul Dravid flicked a delightful boundary through midwicket for his first boundary as India reached 43 for 1 after 10 overs. Jaffer's first boundary took 31 deliveries to come, as he drove a full delivery from Morne Morkel through the off-side in the 11th over.
After the few early overs, the pitch settled down nicely and both Jaffer and Dravid found it quite easy unlike the first innings.
Jaffer, in particular, seemed to have found his footing and his cracking pull shot off Jacques Kallis in the 14th over was a testimony to that. However, Morkel's extra bounce proved to be Dravid's undoing. The former India captain guided a rising delivery outside the off-stump straight to De Villiers at third slip and dismissed for 17, as India were reduced to 64 for 2 in the 19th over.
Jaffer fell in almost his trademark style when he edged to the slips while going for an extravagant drive outside the off-stump. The Mumbai opener disappointed once again, throwing away his wicket when the team needed him the most; he was out for 19 as India slumped to 70 for 3 in 20 overs. The only consolation for India is that they performed marginally better than in their first innings when they were bowled out for 76 at the same stage.
VVS Laxman started off positively as he thumped two cracking straight boundaries and one through the point region to race to 14 in as many deliveries. The right-hander ended the session with another stylish boundary through mid-off with India reaching 95 for three in 25 overs at the lunch break.
Laxman was unbeaten on 19 from 22 deliveries, inclusive of four boundaries, while Ganguly was not out on 10 from 16 deliveries, with one boundary.
India still needs another 323 runs to make South Africa bat again and considering the way they have batted in this match, it looks a near-impossible task. It will take another repeat of the magical 281 by Laxman, though one feels even that may not be enough.
Post- lunch session: (96 runs, 31 overs, 1 wicket)
After a few quiet overs, Laxman broke the shackles with consecutive boundaries off Morkel in the 31st over.
Ganguly followed it up with a boundary in the next over from Paul Harris, cutting a short delivery to the point boundary.
However, Laxman did not last long; he was caught behind off Morkel for 35. A closer looks at television replays indicated that the ball took a very fine edge. A disappointed Laxman walked back after hitting six boundaries in his 45-ball knock. He added 55 runs for the fifth wicket with Ganguly as India slumped to 125 for four in the 34th over.
Mahendra Singh again looked positive despite over-aggression costing him his wicket in the first essay. He smashed Morkel for a powerful boundary, his first, through the cover region in the 36th over.
Meanwhile, Ganguly gained in confidence with every passing over. Under fire for his run of poor scores in the last few matches, the left-hander seemed determined to play a big innings. His straight drive off Steyn in the 40th over was a treat as India progressed to 147 for four.
Dhoni had a lucky escape in the 44th over when he took on a short delivery from Steyn. It just about carried to Ntini, who came charging in from the fine leg boundary only to misjudge the ball which went over him for a boundary.
Ganguly completed his half-century in the 50th over with a double on the off-side. The former captain's half-century, his first in seven innings, included five boundaries and took 86 deliveries; it also brought up the 50-run partnership with Dhoni and ended a string of low scores for him.
Dhoni, on 24, was again lucky in the 53rd over when he charged down the wicket to left-arm spinner Harris but missed the ball, and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher failed with the stumping chance.
India ended the session without any further casualties, posting 191 for four in 57 overs.
Ganguly, unbeaten on a solid knock of 59 from 103 deliveries, including five boundaries, kept India afloat just when it looked all was over. Dhoni survived a few close chances to remain unbeaten on 28 from 84 deliveries, inclusive of four boundaries.
They still need another 227 runs with six wickets in hand to make the visitors bat again. The problem for India is that South Africa have plenty of time to force a result.
Post-tea session: (137 runs, 37.2 overs, 6 wickets)
Ganguly raised India's 200 in 61st over when he cut Harris through the third-man region for a boundary. In the next over, he drove Morkel straight for a boundary to advance to 75, which was inclusive of eight boundaries. He took three runs in the 65th over to bring up the 100-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Dhoni.
Steyn came on for a new spell after tea and struck in his second over with the wicket of Ganguly. The left-hander was given out caught behind for 87, but closer looks at the replays showed the ball might have hit the edge before the bat hit the ground.
Ganguly made his disappointment clear as he walked back after hitting eight boundaries in 149 deliveries. He did his best to help the team fight back from a position of no hope.
Dhoni brought up his fifty in the 74th over with a single off Steyn. The Indian wicketkeeper survived a torrid start, but hung on bravely to bring up his ninth half-century in 122 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries.
He, however, did not survive long, falling in the same fashion as in the first innings when he tried a full-blooded shot through the off-side and edged it to first slip. He scratched his way to 52 during his 200-minute stay at the crease.
Anil Kumble survived a chance when his edge flew past Kallis at first slip off Harris, but fell three balls later, bowled through the gate by Harris for 5, trying to drive through the off-side.
India needed another 145 runs to avoid an innings defeat and with just three wickets in hand it was question of how soon South Africa could finish it up.
Harbhajan Singh made 4 from 17 deliveries before he was trapped leg before wicket by Steyn as India slipped to 292 for eight.
Steyn softened R P Singh with a few short deliveries, including one which struck him on the helmet. It was no surprise that he obliged off the next ball, giving a simple catch to Smith at first slip for 8.
As play was extended beyond the scheduled close time of 1742 IST, S Sreesanth tried a wild swing off the next delivery but Ntini at cover dropped a simple offering. The whole press box was disappointed too as even they didn't want to come back the next day just for a single wicket.
Sreesanth then had a gala time with the bat as he played some wild shots against the pacers. He danced down the wicket and thumped Morkel over the midwicket for his first boundary. He then smashed Steyn for a six and boundary in successive deliveries to race to 17 off 11 deliveries.
Fittingly, Ntini bowled him -- the final wicket -- for 17. Irfan Pathan finished unbeaten on 43 from 77 deliveries, inclusive of four boundaries and a six as India folded up for 328 in 94.2 overs.
This was India's first loss in a Test in two years. Their last defeat at home was against England in March 2006, when they went down by 212 runs.
Once again it was Steyn who stole the honours with the ball, claiming three for 91 in 23 overs for a match haul of eight wickets for 114 runs.
India will need to make some drastic decisions ahead of the final Test in Kanpur, starting April 11. Wasim Jaffer looked very shaky against the South African pacers, scoring just 9 and 19 in the two innings. Similarly, the performance of R P Singh and Pathan with the ball was ordinary. The spinners, Harbhajan and Kumble too will need to perform better than this if they hope to make an impression on the South African batsmen.
In the end, what made the difference was the way the two teams prepared for the match. While India came in with demons of the green pitch on their minds, South Africa had plans in place and executed them perfectly.