Randjesfontein (South Africa):India's bowlers were hammered but its batsmen took it to a five-wicket victory in the first match of its South African tour against the Nicky Oppenheimer XI at the Mining Magnates Private Ground north of Johannesburg on Monday.
The Oppenheimer XI treated the Indian bowlers with near-disdain as they hurried to 244 for three declared in 52 overs. But on a perfect batting pitch, India made 245 for five in reply, with two of the wickets being batsmen who retired and another a run-out. Shiv Sunder Das retired after making a fluent 59 off 62 balls and he was followed by Rahul Dravid, who made a more restrained 48 off 72 balls. Jacques Rudolph, 20, hit a sparkling 109 for the Oppenheimer XI and shared century stands with two other young batsman, Loots Bosman and Graeme Smith, who made 62 and 54 respectively. India surprisingly chose to field first in a match designed as a low-pressure warm-up for touring sides. Traditionally there is no toss and the touring side get choice of innings in which there is no limit on the number of overs. India was the first side since the fixture was launched in 1992 to spurn the chance to bat first, although it struck an agreement that the Oppenheimer team would declare early enough for the tourists to go for victory. Rudolph, a left-hander who will play against the Indian's again for South Africa 'A' in Benoni on Wednesday, is regarded as one of South Africa's most talented batsmen and he batted fluently against a side which included all of India's main bowlers, with the exception of fast bowler Javagal Srinath. Initially, though, Rudolph was overshadowed by Bosman, 24, who thrashed 62 off 77 balls in an opening partnership of 100 in 22.5 overs. Bosman hit four sixes and four fours. Rudolph was then joined by another 20-year-old left-hander, Graeme Smith, and the pair shared a second wicket stand of 117 before Rudolph was caught in the deep shortly before his teams innings was declared. Rudolph faced 151 balls and hit 13 fours and a six. Smith was run out in the last over of the innings after hitting 54 off 73 balls with four fours and a six. Indian leg spinner Anil Kumble, making a comeback after a long-term shoulder injury, took both wickets for 47 runs. He bowled 10 overs and showed no ill effects after his absence from the game. Star Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who missed a recent series against Sri Lanka because of a stress fracture in his right foot, looked in top form as he raced to 45 off 36 balls with eight fours. But Tendulkar was out lbw in the first over bowled by former Test fast bowler Mornantau Hayward. Indian captain Saurav Ganguly hit a six over mid-wicket off left-arm spinner Goolam Bodi but in trying to repeat the shot was caught in the deep for 34. Das and Dravid saw off Hayward, who was easily the most dangerous Oppenheimer XI bowler, and put on 91 before Das retired. Verendra Sehwag hit an aggressive 44 off 50 balls before being run out when only five runs were needed to win. The pace steps up for the Indian's when they play a South Africa 'A' team in Benoni on Wednesday and they play the first match in a triangular Limited Overs series against South Africa in Johannesburg on Friday. Kenya is the third team in the tournament.
| Copyright AFP 2001