Indian captain Saurav Ganguly hit a thrilling 85, but his team's middle order batsmen crumbled as South Africa won a triangular Limited Overs series day-night match by 46 runs at Buffalo Park on Friday.
The defeat meant that India must beat Kenya in the round robin match in Paarl on Wednesday to make sure of playing against South Africa in the final in Durban next Friday (October 26). Chasing a South African total of 282 for four, India made a superb start as Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar put on 101 for the first wicket before Tendulkar was bowled for 37 off 34 balls in the 16th over. It was the 15th time Ganguly and Tendulkar had posted a century opening stand, equalling the world One-day International record set by Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes of West Indies. Rahul Dravid made 71 not out but the rest of the batting failed miserably. Inexperience showed as three batsmen were run out. "We managed to squeeze them and apply some pressure," said South African captain Shaun Pollock. Ganguly admitted he was disappointed that India had squandered a good start but said he did not feel there was undue pressure on himself, Tendulkar and Dravid, the only experienced top order batsmen in the side. "Not really," he said, "we expect all our top seven to make runs." India was bolstered by an announcement that V V S Laxman, a batting star of Indias Test series against Australia earlier this year, will join the side early next week after recovering from injury. South Africa's innings was built around a career-best 81 by stand-in opening batsman Boeta Dippenaar. It was Dippenaar's second successive half-century since he came into the side ahead of Gary Kirsten, who is recovering from a thigh strain. Dippenaar made 74 not out when South Africa beat Kenya by nine wickets in Kimberley. South Africa made a flying start after winning the toss when Herschelle Gibbs dominated an opening stand of 63 with Dippenaar. Continuing the outstanding form he has shown during the season, Gibbs thrashed 47 off 41 balls with seven fours and a six before whipping a catch to mid-wicket off Ajit Agarkar in the 10th over. Although it was unable to maintain such a spectacular rate, especially when India brought on its spinners, South Africa scored steadily before Jonty Rhodes and Lance Klusener gave the innings a late impetus with a quick-fire unbeaten fifth wicket stand of 79 off 66 balls. India, coming off a shock 70-run defeat against Kenya in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, made four changes in returning to the side that beat South Africa by 41 runs in its previous meeting at Centurion on October 10. Back in the side were opening bowlers Agarkar and Javagal Srinath but they took a pounding from Gibbs. Srinath, though, struck two vital blows in his second spell when he ended a 103-run third wicket stand between Dippenaar and Jacques Kallis, with Kallis prodding a wide, leg-side ball to mid-wicket after making an untroubled 49. In his next over Srinath ended Dippenaar's innings when the batsman missed a pull and was out lbw. India put down three chances. Nicky Boje was dropped at slip by Rahul Dravid off Srinath, Kallis was missed by wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta off Anil Kumble and Rhodes offered a caught and bowled chance to the accurate off spinner Harbhajan Singh. Rhodes, though, was the only costly error. He was dropped on 17 and went on to make an unbeaten 40 off 37 balls. A brief rain shower delayed the start of India's innings and made the outfield slippery. Ganguly and Tendulkar were in great form, however. Although Ganguly dominated the strike, Tendulkar scored at better than a run a ball before dragging an attempted pull against Kallis onto his stumps. The crucial moment came when left-arm spinner Nicky Boje came on for his first over. Ganguly hammered him to long-on where Kallis slipped as he held a tricky catch but managed both to hold on and to stay inside the boundary rope as he fell. Ganguly's 85 was made off 93 balls with six fours and two sixes.
| Copyright AFP 2001 |