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SA ease past India at Port Elizabeth

January 22, 2011 03:15 IST


South Africa beat India by 48 runs (Duckworth/Lewis method) in a rain-affected fourth One-Day International at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth on Friday to level the five-match series 2-2.

It was India's fifth successive loss at a venue where they have never won - among the losses is one to Kenya in 2001.

The result ensures there's all to play for in the final match at Centurion on Sunday. However, with heavy rains forecast for that day this might just be the scoreline with which the series ends.

Chasing a formidable target (266), the visitors had made 142 for six after 32.5 overs when play was called off following a second rain interruption.

Going into the match with a 2-1 lead and the prospect of sealing their first-ever one-day series win in South Africa, India had things under control in the midway stage of the home side's innings, but let slip their advantage.

Having allowed South African tail come back into the match, the Indian batsman failed to rise up to the occasion, losing wickets at regular intervals thereby making things increasingly difficult for them. And when the D/L method came into the picture, courtesy the rains, the result was never in doubt.

Virat Kohli remained unbeaten on 87, waging a lone battle in what in the end was a lost cause. The youngster's 92-ball knock was inclusive of seven hits to the fence and two over it (both off Robin Petersen). However, no other Indian batsman could make a decent contribution thereby ensuring the team fell behind in the asking rate.

Lonwabe Tsotsobe was the pick of the South African bowlers with figures of two for 25 - taking his tally in the series to 10. Petersen also chipped in two wickets (for 46).

Morne MorkelHowever, it was their pace duo - Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel - that continued to trouble the Indian batsmen the most, as they had done for most parts of the tour.

Earlier, South Africa recovered well after mid-innings slump to post a commendable total batting first up. The home team made 265 for seven, having been 118 for five at one stage.

In an excruciatingly slow wicket, South Africa paid the price for some callousness in the middle of their innings. However, to their credit they recovered well from the slump, thanks to two vital partnerships lower down the order, both involving JP Duminy.

Duminy top-scored with 71, his 72-ball knock inclusive of two hits to the fence and one over it. It didn't come across as a surprise when he was named the man-of-the-match for his impressive efforts.

Hashim Amla shone at the top of the order with an impressive 65. Yuvraj Singh was India's most successful bowler with figures of three for 34.

Earlier, South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first.

"We need to put some runs on the board as the wicket will slow down later in the day," reasoned their captain Graeme Smith.

His Indian counterpart, MS Dhoni, agreed. 

"It looks even right now but history suggests that the wicket slows down as the day progresses," said Dhoni, adding, "But winning the match is the most important thing for us."

India had just one change to their line-up, with Parthiv Patel replacing Murali Vijay while the South Africans had two changes to their team - Morne van Wyk and Robin Petersen coming in for Colin Ingram and Wayne Parnell respectively.

South Africa innings:

South Africa got off to a calculated start. Hashim Amla (65) began on a confident note, smashing Zaheer's sixth delivery through the cover point for the first boundary of the innings.

The fourth and fifth overs, bowled by Munaf and Zaheer, were maidens and then the South African openers exploded, Graeme Smith (18) smashing Munaf to the mid-on fence to break the shackles.

The next over by Zaheer cost India 10 runs, with both the batsmen helping themselves with boundaries. And when in Munaf's fourth over Amla hit successive boundaries, the home team had secured what they wanted - a good start.

Ashish Nehra replaced Munaf in the 10th over, and Amla welcomed him by guiding the ball to the extra cover fence - the boundary helping the Proteas reach the 50-run mark.

However, Nehra struck in the next over when Harbhajan took a spectacular catch at mid-off to send back Smith. The South African captain's 30-ball knock was inclusive of two boundaries and he put 57 runs for the opening with Amla.

When on 37, Amla achieved a personal landmark. He became the fastest to reach the 2000-run mark in ODIs, reaching the milestone in 40 innings, five short of the previous record holder (Zaheer Abbas).

A few overs later, Amla guided a Yuvraj delivery to the third man boundary to complete his 12th ODI half century. He and Morne van Wyk (15) put on 49 runs (at a run-a-ball) for the second wicket before Yuvraj had the latter caught by Kohli at slips.

When Amla ran himself out in the next over, India was back in the game. Amla's 69-ball knock was inclusive of eight hits to the fence but his run out was unnecessary to say the least.

Yuvraj ensured India had more reason to celebrate when he had AB de Villiers (3) caught behind. And when Faf du Plessis (1) was run out in the next over, India were firmly in the driver's seat.

South Africa had lost four wickets in quick succession to squander a good start.

However, JP Duminy and Johan Botha (44) steadied the ship with a 70-run stand for the sixth wicket. The stand was more about caution than aggression, apt considering the need of the hour.

However, just when things looked good again for the home team Yuvraj struck a third time, having Botha stumped.

Botha's 59-ball innings was inclusive of three hits to the fence and was a valuable effort from the South African point of view.

And then Robin Peterson (31) combined well with Duminy to put on a 54-run partnership for the seventh wicket and add to India's woes.

During the course of the partnership, Duminy reached his 12th ODI half century with a bounadry through extra cover (off Zaheer). Peterson's aggressive 34-ball knock included three boundaries.

The batting powerplay, taken in the final five overs, witnessed the home side score 45 runs at the cost of just one wicket. It summed up a perfect comeback for the hosts, Duminy signing off with a maximum over midwicket in  the last over by Munaf.

South Africa had begun exceedingly well, slumped to abysmal depths in the middle of their innings before recovering to finish on a strong note. 

India innings:

Tsotsobe gave the home team their opening breakthrough in his first over - the second of the innings - when he had Rohit Sharma (1) caught by Duminy at backward point.

However, new batsman Virat Kohli eased the pressure a bit with two boundaries in Tsotsobe's second over, both through the extra cover.

Kohli and Parthiv Patel (11) seemed to be going well when a slower one from Tsotsobe on the wrong foot.

Yuvraj Singh (12) smashed Steyn to the mid-on boundary to announce his arrival and then cleared the long-on fence off Botha for a six.

However, just four balls after that maximum, Botha had his revenge. Yuvraj's attempt at paddle sweep didn't materialise as expected and Smith took a blinder at leg gully. India down to 49 for three after the 15th over.

It would have been worse for India had AB de Villiers not missed an opportunity to stump Kohli (off Peterson).

Kohli and Suresh Raina (20) then combined well to put on a valuable 63-run partnership for the fourth wicket, the former reaching his 12th ODI fifty in the process.

Kohli celebrated his feat with a boundary over midwicket off Duminy and a maximum over long-on off Peterson. However, just when the duo looked to have settled the proceedings for India, a momentary lapse of concentration from Raina cost him his wicket.

In trying to come down the wicket to Peterson and repeat Kohli's feat, Raina was beaten in the flight and de Villiers did some smart work behind the stumps on this occasion.

MS Dhoni (2) didn't survive long either, the Indian captain hit a Peterson straight to du Plessis at short extra cover. And when the diligent Morkel induced an edge of Yusuf Pathan's (2) blade, India's chances seemed all but over.

The Men in Blue had slumped from 112 for three to 128 for six.

After 31.3 overs, when the visitors had made 137 for six, rain stopped play. When play did resume, four overs had been reduced (as per the Duckworth-Lewis method) and India had been set a revised target of 260.

However, after only eight balls had been bowled after resumption, rain played spoilsport again. And that was the end of it.

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