One-run win too late for India
Top-order failure proves crucial as Dhoni’s men exit; Pak, Australia enter semis from Group 2
It was as though Pakistan were playing both the matches on the day. A strong contingent of Pakistani supporters screamed its lungs out as Mohammad Hafeez and company handed a 32-run defeat on Australia in an earlier match.
All those fans stayed back on Tuesday night to see their team go through to the World T20 semifinals at the expense of India, cheering South Africa all the way.
For India to edge ahead of Pakistan on net run-rate which had shot up to +0.25 from -0.42 following their big win over Australia, they needed to restrict South Africa to 121 or fewer after posting 152/6.
All they could manage was to pick up a pyrrhic one-run win after bowling out South Africa to 151 in 19.5 overs to finish their campaign on a winning yet disappointing note. It was ironic that a match as close as this one could hardly stir the spectators’ emotions because the bigger cause had already been lost.
Pakistan will take on Group 1 toppers Sri Lanka in the first semifinal on Thursday while Group 2 toppers Australia face the West Indies test in the other last-four clash on Friday.
Virtually defending a total of 121, India, at various stages threatened to pull off an improbable act, but Francois du Plessis, replacing a struggling Richard Levi, produced an innings of substance and style (65, 38b, 6x4, 2x6) to dash their hopes. With 12 needed to deny India a place in the semifinals, Robin Peterson got out as the sixth wicket to create an artificial excitement but that delivery from R Ashwin turned out to be a no-ball.
The incident, in a nutshell, also summed up India’s misfortunes on the field. On a day when India needed at least one of their top three batsmen to fire to help them post a big total, none of them could come up with any meaningful contribution. Gautam Gambhir began promisingly with a cover-driven four off the first ball but failed to kick on after that, eventually bowled off a Morne Morkel scorcher. The in-form Virat Kohli couldn’t do much either, lasting just six balls. Virender Sehwag looked ominous, lifting Peterson over long-on fence for maximum but was soon walking back to the hut after losing his off-stump in a repeat act.
The Delhi trio back in the comforts of the pavilion with nothing significant on the board, India’s task had only become that much harder. Yuvraj Singh appeared to wrest the advantage heaving off two huge sixes which reminded of his not too distant destructive form. The left-hander has been serving appetisers since his return after a successful battle with cancer and a big one this time looked just around the corner. The Punjab batsman, however, flattered to deceive becoming the second victim of Morne on the night.
Having seen how both Pakistan and Australia batsmen had struggled to impose themselves on a slow turner, it was always going to be difficult for India to force the pace but given the situation they needed to push themselves hard which was distinctly lacking in Rohit Sharma. Despite spending a good time in the middle after walking in at the fall of Kohli, the right-hander couldn’t get out of his shell. While there was no doubt that he was under pressure to salvage the situation after regular fall of wickets, India could have done with a bit more urgency from the youngster.
Suresh Raina (45, 34b, 5x4) showed that much-needed enterprise in an uninhibited display of batting. The southpaw’s breezy innings coupled with a little cameo from skipper MS Dhoni (23, 13b, 3x4) did bolster India’s total but given the task, it was always going to be inadequate.
Gambhir b M Morkel 8
Sehwag b Peterson 17
(14b, 1x4, 1x6)
Kohli c de Villiers b Kallis 2
Rohit lbw Peterson 25
Yuvraj b M Morkel 21
(15, 1x4, 2x6)
Raina (run out) 45
Dhoni (not out 23
Extras (LB-10, NB-1) 11
Total (for 6 wkts, 20 overs) 152
Fall of wickets: 1-23 (Gambhir), 2-30 (Kohli), 3-36 (Sehwag), 4-68 (Yuvraj), 5-112 (Rohit), 6-152 (Raina).
Bowling: Steyn 4-1-26-0, M Morkel 4-0-28-2 (nb-1), Kallis 3-0-24-1, Peterson 4-0-25-2, Botha 3-0-30-0, De Plessis 1-0-3-0, Duminy 1-0-6-0.
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 36/3.
Amla c Sehwag b Zaheer 0
Kallis c Rohit b Irfan 6
De Villiers b Yuvraj 13
Du Plessis c Raina b Yuvraj 65
(38b, 6x4, 2x6)
Duminy c Gambhir b Balaji 16
Behardien c Raina b Zaheer 13
Peterson b Zaheer 10
A Morkel b Balaji 10
Botha c Raina b Ashwin 8
Steyn (not out) 0
M Morkel b Balaji 6
Extras (LB-3, NB-1) 4
Total (all out, 19.5 overs) 151
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Amla), 2-16 (Kallis), 3-46 (de Villiers), 4-95 (du Plessis), 5-107 (Duminy), 6-127 (Behardien), 7-127 (Peterson), 8-138 (Botha), 9-145 (A Morkel).
Bowling: Zaheer 4-0-22-3, Irfan 3-0-26-1, Yuvraj 4-0-23-2, Rohit 1-0-13-0, Ashwin 4-0-27-1 (nb-1), Balaji 3.5-0-37-3.
Runs during Power Play:1-6 overs: 36/3.