Final jinx continues to haunt India

Published: Saturday, October 27, 2001, 7:37 [IST]
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Durban: South Africa crushed India by six wickets in the final of the Summer Spice triangular series at Kingsmead on Friday. South Africa's fast bowlers did the initial damage before opening batsman Gary Kirsten rubbed in the home team's superiority. An in-form Kirsten, aided by sloppy Indian bowling and fielding, made 87 off 108 balls as South Africa won with 7.5 overs to spare. The Indians seldom mounted a meaningful challenge after South African captain Shaun Pollock won the toss and sent them in on a seam-friendly pitch. Rahul Dravid made a defiant 77 as India was bowled out for 183, with Pollock, Mornantau Hayward and Justin Kemp doing most of the damage on a pitch which had bounce and more life than it had encountered in previous matches in the tournament. Hayward troubled the Indians with his pace and steep bounce, with one delivery timed at 150.1 kph. He took the key early wicket of Sachin Tendulkar and later ended a sixth-wicket partnership of 51 when Reetinder Sodhi was caught at deep mid-wicket. Hayward took two for 38 in his 10 overs.Pollock bowled immaculately to take two for 19 off nine overs, while Kemp took three for 20. Pollock also held two catches and made a direct-hit run-out to take the man-of-the-match award, while Kirsten was named man-of-the-series. The day-night match started on time following heavy rain the previous day. The sky was overcast and there was enough moisture in the pitch for the bowlers to get some sideways movement. South Africa opted for an all-seam attack, leaving out left-arm spinner Nicky Boje. Pollock struck the first blow when he had Indian captain Saurav Ganguly caught behind for nine. Tendulkar followed after making 17 when he edged a lifting ball from Hayward on to his stumps. Dravid and Virender Sehwag put on 60 for the third wicket before the aggressive Sehwag was caught at third man when he slashed at Makhaya Ntini. Dravid's sound technique and calm temperament carried him through while his teammates struggled. He reached 50 off 76 balls with five fours. Sodhi looked uncomfortable against pace but helped Dravid put on a vital 51 before he was out for 22. It started a collapse in which the last five wickets fell for 19 runs in five overs As the innings went into the closing overs, Dravid tried to lift the tempo. He went down the pitch to attack Kemp, but skied a catch to cover. He made his 77 off 102 balls with six fours. With the anchor of the innings removed, the last three Indian wickets fell with the total on 183 and India failed by 10 balls to bat out its 50 overs. India fielded an unchanged team from that which beat Kenya by 186 runs in Paarl on Wednesday. Dravid again kept wicket, a dubious decision underlined in the sixth over when Dravid, a non-specialist, let through four byes when he misjudged the bounce of a delivery from Ajit Agarkar, then let another ball go through to the boundary in the same over. Although it was signalled as wides because it went down the leg-side, it would have been gathered easily by most wicket-keepers. Kirsten was beaten twice outside the off stump by Javagal Srinath but then played a sparkling innings, although he was dropped off Srinath on 23 when Venkatsai Laxman, at second slip, moved to his right and dropped a chance which seemed to be heading straight towards Sehwag at first slip. Kirsten went to his 50 off 62 balls with seven fours. Not known as a big hitter, the little left-hander then went down the pitch and hit off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for a straight six. Kirsten overshadowed Herschelle Gibbs in a stand of 80 for the first wicket before sharing a second wicket stand of 70 with Jacques Kallis, who made 39. Kallis also had an escape, cutting Srinath high to deep backward point, where Anil Kumble allowed the ball to slip through his hands for four. Kumble was India's only economical bowler, conceding 24 runs in 10 overs.With 11 runs needed to win, there was a brief stoppage when Harbhajan Singh, fielding on the square leg boundary, complained that he had been struck on the back by an object thrown from the crowd. South Africa then lost two wickets before McKenzie sealed the win with a hooked four off Agarkar. South Africa and India will meet in three Test matches. The first Test starts in Bloemfontein on November 3.

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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