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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

India - South Africa ODI Diary (2006-07)

First ODI @The Wanderers
A wet start to the series

The Wanderers is among the cricketing world's great venues. Here the cricketers walk down steep steps from the pavilion while making their way to the ground. This is a ground with a distinct heartbeat and a soul. Like the Eden Gardens, it has got character. It is also called the Bull Ring. In some senses, Dravid had taunted the South Africans the previous day with the words, "We want to take the bull by its horns."

The battle lines are clearly drawn. Rain spoils the show, rather it is a no show with inclement weather preventing a single ball from being bowled in the first match of the MTN ODI series. The crowd, with a fair sprinkling of fans of Indian origin, waits patiently. Some of the spectators, braving the rain, wave flags and banners in the open enclosures. But this is a day when rain does not relent. The match is called off. It's a wet start to the series. But things could hot up pretty soon.


Second ODI @Durban
Paupers in technique

The Indian innings, shockingly, concluded in the 30th over. It was also India's 13th defeat in 17 ODI outings against South Africa in South Africa. Sachin Tendulkar n Dravid, both fell to sensational incoming deliveries, alone appeared to be confident against the South African pace attack in Durban.

The rest surrendered too meekly. Young Indian batsmen bring with them a flawed technique and they suffer. The support staff can bring about subtle and often critical changes in a batsman's technique, but he needs to possess the basics for the coaches to work on.

Well, India's 91, chasing 249, at Kingsmead was its lowest ODI score against South Africa. The canny Shaun Pollock, with his accuracy and seam movement, scalped two in his first spell. Then Nel, in a burst of sustained hostility, picked up four for very little in eight overs. Jacques Kallis nailed three batsmen for even less.

The shot selection of the Indians was forgettable. They were simply not getting behind the line. They, predictably, departed without offering a fight. If the Indian batting can be destroyed in a manner such as this in one-day cricket, with all its restrictions on the pace bowlers, one shudders to think what could happen to this line-up once the Tests begin.

The Indian bowlers had earlier performed an honest job. The side left out Irfan Pathan, went in with four bowlers, and restricted the host to 248 for eight after Smith opted to bat. Zaheer Khan struck early — the left-armer can be a handful if he lands the ball in the right areas — and Munaf Patel and Ajit Agarkar operated well. Harbhajan Singh — the lone spinner — was attacked by Abraham de Villiers, but Tendulkar bowled a tight spell and Dinesh Mongia chipped in usefully.

The South Africans were made to work for their runs. Not that Kallis was complaining. He was rock-like at No. 3; the South African think-tank had rightly decided to have its technically most accomplished batsman walking in, in the slot immediately after the openers. Kallis' 14th ODI hundred — also the slowest by a South African in ODIs — served the interests of the team. He was able to string together partnerships and the innings revolved around him.

He was rightly adjudged the Man of the Match. And Smith was smiling.

THE SCORES

Second ODI, Kingsmead, Durban, November 22, 2006. South Africa won by 157 runs.

South Africa: G. Smith lbw b Zaheer 1; L. Bosman lbw b Zaheer 22; J. Kallis (not out) 119; H. Gibbs c Dhoni b Patel 2; A. B. de Villiers st. Dhoni b Mongia 41; M. Boucher c Zaheer b Patel 23; J. Kemp c Dhoni b Agarkar 8; S. Pollock c Tendulkar b Agarkar 0; A. Nel (run out) 22; Extras (lb-1, w-9) 10. Total (for eight wkts. in 50 overs) 248.

Fall of wkts: 1-3, 2-47, 3-63, 4-150, 5-196, 6-209, 7-209, 8-248.

India bowling: Patel 10-2-39-2; Zaheer 8-0-53-2; Agarkar 9-1-47-2; Tendulkar 9-1-33-0; Harbhajan 10-0-59-0; Mongia 4-0-16-1.

India: W. Jaffer b Pollock 0; S. Tendulkar b Nel 35; M. Kaif c Gibbs b Pollock 8; R. Dravid b Langeveldt 18; M. Dhoni c Boucher b Nel 14; S. Raina c Kallis b Nel 4; D. Mongia c Kemp b Kallis 1; Harbhajan lbw b Kallis 1; A. Agarkar b Kallis 6; Zaheer Khan c Boucher b Nel 1; M. Patel (not out) 0; Extras (w-1, nb-2) 3. Total (in 29.1 overs) 91.

Fall of wkts: 1-0, 2-39, 3-62, 4-62, 5-82, 6-83, 7-83, 8-84, 9-85.

South Africa bowling: Pollock 7-2-17-2; Ntini 6-0-32-0; Langeveldt 4-0-26-1; Nel 8-2-13-4; Kallis 4.1-1-3-3.


Third ODI @Cape Town
Kemp dumps India

The Indians once again lost the plot. From a position of dominance, they slid down the slippery Table Mountain slope overlooking Newlands.

The Indian pacemen disappointed at the `Death.' They erred by bowling a full length — the deliveries were lacking in speed — and were dumped into the stands by the tall and often majestic Justin Kemp. Simply put, the Indians bowled poorly at the crunch, fielded badly, and were never in the hunt with the bat. The 106-run defeat, after India had the South Africans on the mat in the first 20 overs, showed the side did not believe in its capabilities.


Andrew Hall and Kemp joined hands to scatter the attack. The last 10 overs provided South Africa 113 runs, 58 of them arriving from the final five. The unbeaten 138-run partnership between Kemp and Hall in 14.1 overs was the highest eighth-wicket association in ODIs.

The Indians hardly put up a fight, chasing South Africa's 274 for seven. Shaun Pollock, so straight, moved the ball just enough to put the seeds of doubt in the batsmen's mind. His three wickets in his opening burst virtually settled the issue. Skipper Rahul Dravid, ever a fighter, and M. S. Dhoni made contrasting half centuries. Dravid's technical excellence stood out, and Dhoni blazed away. But India had too much catching up to do. And the others were so inadequate.

In the end, the South Africans were jumping for joy. And to think that the day started with skipper Smith and selection panel chief Haroon Lorgat having a public spat over the selection or otherwise of the injured in-form paceman Andre Nel.

Nel's replacement, Hall, sported a grin too.

THE SCORES

Third ODI, Newlands, Cape Town, November 26, 2006. South Africa won by 106 runs.

South Africa: G. Smith b Zaheer 0; L. Bosman c Tendulkar b Zaheer 6; J. Kallis c Tendulkar b Zaheer 0; H. Gibbs c Kaif b Pathan 35; A. B. de Villiers c Dhoni b Agarkar 29; M. Boucher (run out) 4; J. Kemp (not out) 100; S. Pollock (run out) 33; A. Hall (not out) 56; Extras (lb-1, w-8, nb-2) 11. Total (for seven wkts. in 50 overs) 274.

Fall of wkts: 1-0, 2-0, 3-38, 4-42, 5-71, 6-76, 7-136.

India bowling: Zaheer 10-4-42-3; Agarkar 9-0-71-1; Pathan 8-1-60-1; Kumble 10-1-24-0; Harbhajan 10-0-63-0; Tendulkar 3-0-13-0.

India: V. Sehwag c Hall b Pollock 0; S. Tendulkar c Bosman b Pollock 2; R. Dravid c Hall b Pollock 63; M. Kaif b Pollock 10; D. Karthik c Smith b Ntini 14; M. Dhoni c Bosman b Kallis 55; I. Pathan c Smith b Kallis 1; Harbhajan Singh c Smith b Hall 10; A. Agarkar c Smith b Hall 6; Zaheer Khan (not out) 2; A. Kumble b Hall 0; Extras (lb-1, w-4) 5. Total (in 41.3 overs) 168.

Fall of wkts: 1-0, 2-7, 3-17, 4-44, 5-129, 6-133, 7-148, 8-156, 9-168.

South Africa bowling: Pollock 9-1-26-4; Ntini 7-2-13-1; Hall 9.3-0-45-3; Langeveldt 5-0-31-0; Kallis 8-0-29-2; Kemp 1-0-13-0; Smith 2-0-10-0.


Fourth ODI @Port Elizabeth
They can't put a proper bat to ball

The South Africans settled the issue at Port Elizabeth. They also played the key moments of the series better. Whenever the host was in trouble, it found men for the occasion. Whenever the Indians were in a hole, they slid further. The South Africans displayed character. This was an attribute found wanting in the Indians. The winner was spotted a long way from the end.

The 80-run victory under lights in the fourth ODI at the charming port city meant Graeme Smith's men had clinched the five-match MTN ODI series 3-0, with one game left.

Smith, who appears to be falling over in his stance, is in horrendous form with the willow. But he led the side with confidence and authority. Sadly, his opposite number Rahul Dravid watched the match from the pavilion. His finger injury — sustained at Cape Town — ruled him out of the rest of the ODIs. Psychologically, this was a major blow for the Indians.

The South Africans sizzled on the field. The pacemen mixed the bouncing deliveries with those of a fuller length well. The Indians capitulated.

Man of the Match, Herschelle Gibbs too was smiling at the end. His unbeaten 93 had taken his side past the 240-run mark. He worked hard for his runs, in front of a capacity crowd. Gibbs was under pressure to perform. He had got a start at Cape Town, blazing an entertaining cameo. But he could not build on that.

The in-form Zaheer Khan probed him early on with some well-directed seam bowling. Then, Anil Kumble bowled with precision, giving little away. South Africa lost wickets regularly at the other end, but Gibbs held firm. Along the way, there were some typically sparkling shots from Gibbs through the covers. And there was a fair sprinkling of well timed flicks as well. It was not the easiest of pitches to play strokes on. The ball was not really coming on to the bat. There was lateral movement for the pacemen, but no appreciable bounce.

The South African pacemen were able to extract a lot more lift from the surface; possibly the evening moisture could have added some nip to the pitch. Somebody like Makhaya Ntini also has stronger shoulders than the Indians. The hefty blows from the lower order helped, but Gibbs marshalled the innings expertly. The side had found another batsman who put his hand up during a crisis.

The tale of the Indian batting was no different from the earlier two games. Much of the batsmen could not cope with the stress. India was bundled out on the chase inside 50 overs for the third successive time. The side folded up for 91 (29.1 overs) at Kingsmead, 168 (41.3 overs) at Newlands, and 163 (38.1 overs) at St. George's Park.

The Indian batting was bereft of application. There was little heart and commitment. Irfan Pathan's 55-ball unbeaten 47 was an exception though. He played correctly, and collected his runs with pleasing strokes on both sides of the wicket. Pathan's knock put the shoddy efforts of the earlier batsmen in proper perspective. The top order was blown away. Exposed early, the middle-order could not last long in the middle.

Andre Nel and Jacques Kallis — both are hustlers who relish testing the batsmen around the rib-cage — did not make life any easier for the Indian batsmen. In other words, there was not let up in pressure. Dravid's absence meant the side was without its only specialist batsman in some kind of form. India wanted runs from Sachin Tendulkar but the master batsman was done in by a lovely away-going delivery from Shaun Pollock.

THE SCORES

Fourth ODI, St. George's Park, Port Elizabeth, November 29, 2006. South Africa won by 80 runs.

South Africa: G. Smith lbw b Zaheer 0; L. Bosman b Sreesanth 0; J. Kallis c Dhoni b Kumble 49; H. Gibbs (not out) 93; A. B. de Villiers lbw b Kumble 13; M. Boucher lbw b Sehwag 29; J. Kemp c Sehwag b Tendulkar 0; S. Pollock (run out) 37; A. Hall (run out) 13; A. Nel (not out) 0; Extras (b-1, lb-4, w-2, nb-2) 9. Total (for eight wkts. in 50 overs) 243.

Fall of wkts: 1-0, 2-6, 3-75, 4-93, 5-154, 6-155, 7-216, 8-240.

India bowling: Zaheer 8-1-38-1; S. Sreesanth 7-1-29-1; Agarkar 5-0-33-0; Pathan 7-0-28-0; Kumble 10-0-42-2; Sehwag 5-0-22-1; Tendulkar 8-0-46-1.

India: W. Jaffer c Smith b Ntini 10; V. Sehwag c Bosman b Ntini 18; S. Tendulkar c Boucher b Pollock 1; M. Kaif (run out) 10; D. Karthik c Nel b Kemp 17; M. S. Dhoni c (sub) b Nel 26; I. Pathan (not out) 47; A. Agarkar c Hall b Kemp 6; Z. Khan c Boucher b Kallis 11; A. Kumble c Smith b Pollock 2; S. Sreesanth c de Villiers b Kemp 3; Extras (b-2, lb-2, w-3, nb-5) 12. Total (in 38.1 overs) 163.

Fall of wkts: 1-23, 2-24, 3-38, 4-39, 5-82, 6-109, 7-128, 8-145, 9-150.

South Africa bowling: Pollock 10-2-23-2; Ntini 9-1-34-2; Kallis 8-1-41-1; Nel 7-0-40-1; Kemp 4.1-0-21-3.


TWENTY20 @Wanderers
Excitement is the name of the game

On a jazzy night at the Wanderers, India finally won a game in South Africa. Its debut in Twenty20 cricket was auspicious indeed.

Dinesh Karthik was the match-winner. The wicket-keeper batsman's footwork is organised. He, thus, collects his runs smartly without resorting to crude methods. He despatched left-arm spinner Robin Peterson over mid-wicket for a six off the first ball of the 20th over. India, chasing 127, had required nine off the last over. After Karthik's strike off the first ball, there was hardly any doubt about the outcome. His fluent 31 was further indication of the fact that he has a future as a batsman.

Sehwag blitzed away at the start, finding gaps and hitting the ropes. Dinesh Mongia, who has experience in this format thanks to his county stint, consolidated with some firm on-side strokes and a telling six over cover off Albie Morkel. He top-scored with 38. Then, Karthik piloted India home with six wickets remaining.

South Africa was without a few of its key players such as Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher, Makhaya Ntini, and Andre Nel. Youngsters like Albie Morkel and Johan van der Wath, both pace bowling all-rounders, did showcase their talent; the former slog-swept Harbhajan Singh out of the ground for one of the biggest sixes at the venue. Swing bowler Charl Langeveldt bowled well, as did Van der Wath, still it was not quite like Ntini, Pollock and Nel firing at the Indians.

Earlier, Zaheer Khan bowled quite beautifully, seaming the ball both ways. He once again consumed Graeme Smith, who opted to bat. Ajit Agarkar struck early too, and South Africa lost four quick wickets. Justin Kemp, the impressive Morkel and Van der Wath enabled the host reach a fighting total, although India came back well towards the end. The Indian fielding, however, was patchy.

THE SCORES

Twenty20 International, Johannesburg, December 1, 2006. India won by six wickets.

South Africa: G. Smith lbw b Zaheer 16; L. Bosman c Tendulkar b Zaheer 1; H. Gibbs c Raina b Agarkar 7; J. Kemp lbw b Tendulkar 22; A. B. De Villiers c Dhoni b Agarkar 6; J. Morkel c Mongia b Sreesanth 27; J. Van der Wath c Raina b Harbhajan 21; R. Peterson (run out) 8; T. Henderson (run out) 0; R. Telemachus (not out) 5; C. Langeveldt (not out) 0; Extras (lb-4, w-8, nb-1) 13. Total (for nine wkts. in 20 overs) 126.

Fall of wkts: 1-19, 2-31, 3-34, 4-41, 5-64, 6-101, 7-120, 8- 120, 9-123.

India bowling: Zaheer 4-0- 15-2; Sreesanth 4-0-33-1; Agarkar 2.3-1-10-2; Pathan 4- 0-30-0; Tendulkar 2.3-0-12-1; Harbhajan 3-0-22-1.

India: V. Sehwag (run out) 34; S. Tendulkar b Langeveldt 10; D. Mongia c Langeveldt b Peterson 38; M. Dhoni b Langeveldt 0; D. Karthik (not out) 31; S. Raina (not out) 3; Extras (lb-7, w-3, nb-1) 11. Total (for four wkts. in 19.5 overs) 127.

Fall of wkts: 1-17, 2-60, 3-71, 4-108.

South Africa bowling: Van der Wath 4-0-18-0; Langeveldt 4-0-20-2; Telemachus 4-0-28-0; Henderson 4-0-31-0; Morkel 2-0-12-0; Peterson 1.5-0-11-1.


Fifth ODI @Centurion
One-horse race

The South African dominance was complete at Centurion. So was the Indian surrender. The Indians huffed and puffed to 200 for nine. The hosts were home and dry with 18.4 overs to spare. The nature of the South African victory reflects the gulf between the two countries in these conditions. The Indian limitations were once again exposed, rather cruelly.

South Africa romped home 4-0 in the MTN series. The verdict could have been 5-0 had not the first game at the Wanderers been washed out. For the first time in the series, the Indian pacemen bowled in the second half of the contest. They were found wanting in the day game as the moisture had dried out by the afternoon. Earlier, the Indian batsmen, with the exception of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, allowed the South African pacemen to call the shots with some ultra defensive batting.

The Indians made just over 20 in 15 overs. The South Africans were close to a hundred after 90 balls. Even after making some allowance for the easing up of the pitch, the difference in the crucial first phase was too glaring.

Shaun Pollock, accurate and wily, pegged India back at the beginning, as he has done throughout the series. The Indians could not quite pick which way the ball would move. He strangulates the batsmen with his precision, and consumes them with his variations. Here, Pollock conceded just 17 runs in 10 overs and snared Virender Sehwag and V. V. S. Laxman outside the off-stump. Man of the Series he certainly was. That he was chosen as the Man of the Match ahead of the attacking Abraham de Villiers also underlined the fact that it was his first spell that swung the contest, decisively, in South Africa's favour.

South Africa made major gains at the impressive SuperSport Park. Even a dead rubber game can throw up positives. For a start, Smith regained form. The skipper had been in the line of fire after just one run in the three earlier games. The fluent Abraham de Villiers' elevation to the opening slot, and the sheer confidence with which he stroked the ball, rubbed off on Smith. The openers sent the fielders on a leather hunt.

There was a marked difference in the levels of commitment of the two sides. No wonder the Indian supporters were an angry lot. One of them entered the Indian dressing room illegally. He was, rightly, arrested.

THE SCORES

Fifth ODI, SuperSport Park, Centurion, December 3, 2006. South Africa won by nine wickets.

India: V. Sehwag c Boucher b Pollock 11; S. Tendulkar c de Villiers b Kemp 55; V. V. S. Laxman c Smith b Pollock 0; D. Mongia b Kemp 41; M. S. Dhoni c Nel b Ntini 44; D. Karthik c Boucher b Nel 11; I. Pathan b Kallis 7; Harbhajan Singh c Pollock b Ntini 1; Zaheer Khan (not out) 16; A. Kumble b Ntini 1; Extras (lb-5, w-8) 13. Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs) 200.

Fall of wkts: 1-18, 2-18, 3-103, 4-127, 5-154, 6-173, 7-183, 8-183, 9-200.

South Africa bowling: Pollock 10-4-17-2; Ntini 10-1-32-3; Kallis 10-1-56-1; Nel 10-1-34-1; Peterson 5-0-33-0; Kemp 5-0-23-2.

South Africa: G. Smith c Karthik b Harbhajan 79; A. B. de Villiers (not out) 92; S. Pollock (not out) 16; Extras (lb-4, w-5, nb-5) 14. Total (for one wkt. in 31.2 overs) 201.

Fall of wkt: 173.

India bowling: Zaheer 7-1-46-0; Sreesanth 3.2-0-31-0; Pathan 6-0-48-0; Harbhajan 8-0-39-1; Kumble 7-0-33-0.

2 comments:

Nitesh said...

except 20/20 rest was not worth watching
hope India perform well in tests

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