India's South African Safari - Cricket: Kirsten takes South Africa to victory
Published: Saturday, October 6, 2001, 16:32 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
India's South African Safari
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Johannesburg: Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar hit centuries. but it was not enough to stop South Africa from making a winning start to a tri-nation Limited Overs tournament at the Wanderers Stadium on Friday.A masterly 133 by Gary Kirsten enabled South Africa to win by six wickets despite India making an imposing 279 for five after being sent in on a good batting pitch.South African captain Shaun Pollock admitted he made a mistake by sending India in. "I thought there would be more life in the pitch than there was. Fortunately our batters did really well to chase the target."Ganguly, the Indian captain, made 127 off 125 balls, while Tendulkar scored 101 off 130 deliveries. Their stand of 193 was the highest opening partnership for any country against South Africa and the total was a new record for the Wanderers."It was big total on the board but they never looked in any trouble," said Ganguly. "All credit to the South Africans. They batted really well. We bowled a bit short and our bowlers have got to be a bit more accurate."Tendulkar was content to play a supporting role, making only 55 while Ganguly was batting.Out of action at top level since receiving treatment for a stress fracture of his right foot in August, he struggled with his timing early on but went on to play some fluent strokes as he reached his 30th One-day century in the 48th over before skying a catch off the next ball.India was pegged back, however, after Ganguly was out in the 36th over and South Africa was always on target in reply after Herschelle Gibbs hit two fours in the first over of its innings off Venkatesh Prasad.South Africa, though, was fortunate that match referee Ahmed Ebrahim of Zimbabwe did not penalise it any overs in its innings after it took 15 minutes longer than scheduled to bowl their 50 overs.Ebrahim probably took into account a change of boots and pads by Ganguly - and a warning by umpire Rudi Koertzen to the Indian captain for wasting time by not being ready when the bowlers were ready to start their run-up.Kirsten and Gibbs scored even faster than Indias champion pair as they put on 114 for the first wicket in 17.4 overs, with Gibbs making 48 off 45 overs with 10 fours before being caught behind off Javagal Srinath.Kirsten played a near-flawless innings and found another capable partner in Jacques Kallis (39) in a second wicket stand of 93 before Kallis played on against Ajit Agarkar.South Africa meet Kenya in Benoni on Sunday in a tournament in which each team plays the others three times each before meeting in a final in Durban on October 26.A near-capacity crowd of 30,000 saw a rousing start to the tournament, with Ganguly and Tendulkar indulging in some breathtaking strokeplay.Both Indian stars had been doubtful starters during the week, missing a match against South Africa A in Benoni two days earlier. Ganguly had a bruised right index finger, while Tendulkar suffered some pain in his troublesome foot following his return in a warm-up match Monday.Both men survived difficult chances. Tendulkar was dropped twice. On 11 he edged South African captain Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener, diving far to his right at slip, could not hold the ball. He gave a sharp return chance to the left of fast bowler Andre Nel when he 68.Ganguly had scored 43 when he top-edged a hook against Jacques Kallis and Justin Kemp ran and dived at fine leg but the ball slipped from his hands as he hit the ground.The left-handed Ganguly played some spectacular shots, hitting five sixes and 14 fours. All of his sixes were hit to the legside against South Africas all-pace attack. Tendulkar hit nine fours.Ganguly was out in the 36th over when he top-edged Kemp and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher took a good catch, running towards fine leg.The South African bowlers did a reasonable job to restrict India to another 86 runs in the remaining 14.4 overs, with none of the other batsmen able to build an innings.On an excellent batting surface, however, South Africa found run-scoring as easy as it had been for the tourists.After his sparkling innings, Ganguly spoiled his performance when he put down a relatively straightforward chance from Gibbs, who drove Javagal Srinath to mid-off when he had scored 15.Kirsten went to his 11th One-day century off 114 balls with 11 fours and was seldom troubled on a pitch, which offered no assistance to the bowlers.Lance Klusener slammed two sixes off successive balls from Srinath as South Africa drew close to victory.