India score resounding victory

Rohit, Raina spur visitors to 21-run win against S Africa in Ntinis farewell match

India score resounding victory

For once, a packed gathering didn’t mind that there was no popular home victory as India clinched the one-off Twenty20 international by 21 runs, comprehensively outclassing South Africa. That said, at various times, it was difficult to say which was the home team, because a vast smattering of Indian-origin fans outshouted their South African counterparts with the same felicity with which Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men put it past the Johan Botha-led side.

There was no fairytale ending for Ntini, given a standing ovation as he led the team on to the park and then when he took a lap of the ground at the conclusion of hostilities, as the Indians put up a wonderful display of attractive Twenty20 cricket, their familiarity with the format courtesy the Indian Premier League clearly standing them in grand stead.

On a surface that played much better than feared, India made the most of Dhoni’s dramatically changing fortunes with the coin to post a competitive 168 for six, and then kept the Proteas down to 147 for nine despite a compelling, blazing half-century from last-minute inclusion Morne van Wyk (67, 39b, 5x4, 5x6), who made the fastest T20 fifty by a South African.

Till such time that the right-handed Van Wyk, drafted in after Graeme Smith was ruled out with a hand injury, was taking the Indian bowling apart, South Africa remained firmly on course, well ahead of the required run rate and with wickets in hand. His dismissal, caught in the deep whipping Praveen Kumar, irrevocably altered the course of the match as India moved in for the kill, getting the job done in the middle overs through their spinners.

Bat held high in his batting stance, the 31-year-old Van Wyk cut a dashing figure, taking T20 debutant Munaf Patel apart before turning his attention on R Ashwin. The Tamil Nadu offie, an acknowledged master at bowling in the Power Plays, suffered as Van Wyk targeted the short square boundaries, going for 27 runs in his first two overs as Van Wyk stormed to his fifty in just 24 deliveries. But Ashwin came back exceptionally well towards the end, conceding just six further runs in his next two overs. His last over, the 19th of the innings, yielded just two, the door slammed firmly shut on South Africa as India wrapped up the match with plenty to spare.

The initial impetus had been provided by another Tamil Nadu player, Murali Vijay, who cut loose briefly in grand style. The base laid by Vijay’s early fireworks were superbly built on by his opening partner Virat Kohli, who didn’t spare Ntini, South Africa’s most expensive bowler, with a succession of blazing boundaries.

The two real stars, however, were man of the match Rohit Sharma (53, 34b, 5x4, 2x6) and Suresh Raina. Rohit was all sublime timing and lazy elegance, hardly hitting a shot in anger and yet getting on the bike and simply racing away. His wristy on-side stroke play was an absolute treat and he gently prised open the stranglehold of the spinners, bringing up his fifty in just 32 deliveries before being dismissed two balls later.

That allowed spinners Botha, Robin Peterson and JP Duminy to control the middle overs, bring the rate of scoring down and gradually put some pressure on the batsmen. India lost Yusuf Pathan for very little, but Raina exploded in a frenzy of fours and sixes. At home in this format as opposed to Test cricket which has found him out, Raina brought his natural square of the wicket on the on-side game into play, easily clearing the fence time and again to leave the South Africans gasping.

For a change, India out-fielded the Proteas too. When South Africa fielded, there were misfields galore, almost everyone giving away easy runs. India, by contrast, were on top of their game, Raina’s direct hit off an unintended relay throw to catch AB de Villiers short of his crease exemplifying the athleticism and accuracy of this largely young outfit.

Score Board

INDIA

Kohli b Botha    28
(19b, 5x4)
Vijay c Van Wyk b Parnell    14
(12b, 3x4)
Rohit c Ntini b Duminy    53
(34b, 5x4, 2x6)
Yuvraj (run out)    12
(13b, 1x4)
Pathan b Theron    6
(8b)
Raina c Miller b Theron    41
(23b, 2x4, 3x6)
Dhoni (not out)    10
(11b)
Extras (LB-1, W-3)    4
Total (for 6 wkts, 20 overs)    168
Fall of wickets: 1-18 (Vijay), 2-67 (Kohli), 3-109 (Rohit), 4-110 (Yuvraj), 5-136 (Pathan), 6-168 (Raina).
Bowling: Parnell 4-0-25-1 (w-1), Ntini 4-0-46-0, Theron 4-0-39-2 (w-1), Peterson 3-0-20-0 (w-1), Botha 3-0-25-1, Duminy 2-0-12-1.

SOUTH AFRICA

Van Wyk c Nehra b Praveen    67
(39b, 5x4, 5x6)
Amla b Nehra    1
(3b)
Ingram c Praveen b Patel    l2
(4b)
De Villiers (run out)    14
(10b, 2x4)
Duminy lbw Yuvraj    0
(2b)
Miller lbw Pathan    10
(8b, 1x6)
Botha c Rohit b Nehra    25
(22b, 1x4, 1x6)
Peterson c Kohli b Pathan    2
(6b)
Parnell c Pathan b Ashwin    14
(16b, 1x4)
Theron (not out)    1
(4b)
Ntini (not out)    1
(2b)
Extras (B-4, LB-3, W-3)    10
Total (for 9 wkts, 20 overs)    147
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (Amla), 2-31 (Ingram), 3-88 (De Villiers), 4-89 (Duminy), 5-93 (Van Wyk), 6-108 (Miller), 7-120 (Peterson), 8-141 (Parnell), 9-144 (Botha).
Bowling: Praveen 3-0-17-1 (w-1), Nehra 4-0-22-2, Patel 2-0-26-1, Ashwin 4-0-33-1 (w-2), Yuvraj 4-0-20-1, Pathan 3-0-22-2.

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