India vs South Africa – Match Report

Barely a fortnight into the blockbuster game with England, where the spoils were shared, India finally ran out of luck and got their first taste at the defeat in this World Cup. A topsy-turvy encounter where the pendulum swung in small patches and the game went down right down to the wire.

India’s bombastic start:

Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar have been the torpedoes of India so far and they fired once again giving India a take off in the initial overs. It was mayhem as Sehwag in his typical fashion unleashed himself. He got an early reprieve in the second over when Morne Van Wyk dithered and didn’t go for a catch. Sehwag took that opportunity and drove, cut and lofted with élan. The strike was heavily skewed by Sehwag and Tendulkar was mostly at the non-striking end. But in the 8th over two classy shots, one cover drive and the other straight off drive, stamped the master’s presence and the assault from both the ends had started. By the end of the second Powerplay, India had reached 128 and 350 looked imminent.

Déjà vu England game:

You couldn’t have even imagined that. It was akin to a storm which came when there were no clouds. In the 39th over, 253/1, India took the batting Powerplay which started a steep downslide resulting in calamitous collapse. Sachin departed, but not after scoring his 48th ODI ton. His 111 was laden with authentic textbook shots and also the Sachin of yore, lofting three sixes. But in the 40th over he chanced his arm but held out at point. That triggered one of the most dramatic capitulations of ODI cricket where Steyn and Co bowled fantastically coupled with inexplicable shots from Indian batters. A domino effect saw India go from 267/1 to 296/10, bundling out in 49 overs. Just to put it in perspective, between Pathan, Kohli, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Nehra and Patel, India got four runs. Dale Steyn who got the stick early in the game, came back and finished with 5/50.

South African run chase:

The match had completely transformed and the momentum had shifted towards South Africa. But 296 was still a daunting task and the pitch did have some assistance for spinners. Greame Smith and Hashim Amla gave a solid compact start but in the 9th over Smith perished trying to go over mid off, handed a straight catch to Sachin. Jacques Kallis has so far had an off World Cup with the bat but looked determined to make amends. Asking rate hovered around 7 per over but Amla and Kallis built a platform where it was set up for power hitting of AB de Villiers. And the template laid out worked to the hilt. Amla scored a well anchored 61 and Kallis got run out scoring 69. But de Villiers took the batting Powerplay at the right time and South Africa didn’t do what India had done. Calculated hitting from Duminy and de Villiers took the total to 223 but Harbhajan chipped in with wickets of the duo to keep the match in balance. 50 were required of final six overs and Faf du Plessis run a ball 25 ensured South Africa’s hunt in the game. Zaheer bowled a magnificent death bowling penultimate over giving just four runs and making the equation 13 of final over. It was a time to step up and be the hero of the team and Robin Peterson did just that. He stroked a boundary and then a huge six over mid-wicket of Nehra to complete the run chase and for once silencing the critics challenging South Africa’s chasing abilities.

Another humdinger where South Africa prevailed and came back in the game from a dead situation. For India, the mishaps came all too soon and from team composition to all three departments of the game, a lot is required to change quickly.

Aatish Sharma

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