India effect stunning 2-wicket win to go 2-1 up

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Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 9:39 [IST]
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India effect stunning 2-wicket win

After slumping to 93/5 in the 25th over, Yusuf Pathan and Suresh Raina pulled off a remarkable recovery with a 75-run partnership, before Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan put on 26 runs to bring India within striking distance of victory and Bhajji and Nehra took India home by two wickets. The win in Tuesday's game has taken India 2-1 up in the 5-match ODI series against South Africa.

India's innings had an unsteady beginning. In just the third over, South Africa's paceman Dale Steyn dismissed a shaky Murali Vijay with a stunning caught and bowled. The other opener Rohit Sharma then tried to steady the innings with Virat Kohli, the duo combining to take a four off the 6th, 7th and 8th overs and then again, in the 9th and 11th overs. In the 13th over, Kohli got stuck into speedster Wayne Parnell, slapping him for two boundaries - one beating third man and the other down to fine leg. But in the very next over, the batsman was caught behind off Morne Morkel and was on his way for 28.

Two overs later, Morkel struck again to bowl Rohit Sharma for 23 as India were floundering on 61/3. In the 20th over, Dhoni tried settling in by smacking the offspinner Johan Botha for a four, but was caught behind later in the over, having to depart for 5 as the slide continued. Then new batsman Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh attempted to launch a recovery, but the latter's plans were nipped in the bud when he was trapped in front by Jean Paul Duminy for 16, as India had slumped to 93/5.

The next man to take guard Yusuf Pathan, struck a boundary off Steyn to take India, rather belatedly, over 100. In the next over, Pathan came down heavily on Botha, smashing him for two fours, one being a streaky top-edge which flew between keeper and first slip. He then attacked Duminy, knocking a four off him as well to take India to 117/5 in 29 overs. His counter-offensive plans appeared to be working at least, for the time being.

In the 30th over, Yusuf went ballistic with Botha's bowling, carting him for three huge sixes, two over long on and the third out of the ground! Pathan had singlehandedly brought the deficit under 100 and had raced to an individual score of 37 from just 21 balls. This indeed seemed to be the turning point of the match. Then Pathan struck a four off Lonwabo Tsotsobe to take India past 150 in the 34th over.

But just when it looked like Raina and Yusuf would take India home, the former was caught behind off Morkel for 37. India were at a precarious 168/6 with Harbhajan Singh, the new man at the crease. Pathan brought up his 50 soon after and tried to retain as much of the strike as possible, even slamming Parnell for a four in the 38th over.

But Morkel tied Harbhajan down in the 39th over and nearly had him caught at backward point by a leaping J P Duminy. Pathan had just brought the deficit to below 40, when he was snapped up by Morkel at third man off Steyn for 59 off 50 balls. India were in dire straits at 182/7 in 39.5 overs. In the very next over, Zaheer was dropped off Morkel at slip as the ball rolled away to the boundary.

India needed 33 runs from 54 balls at the end of the 41st over. Zaheer and Bhajji pushed for the ones and twos, but were occasionally unleashing wild swipes at the ball, missing it altogether. However, in the 45th over, Bhajji finally made contact to send Parnell way over the long on boundary for six. Zaheer and India came in for a bit of luck in the next over when the batsman inner-edged a ball from Tsotsobe for a boundary down to fine leg.

But trying a cross batted swat two balls later landed him in the hands of mid off and India were in trouble again at 208/8 with Zaheer out for 14. Ashish Nehra came to the middle with India still requiring 13 runs off 24 balls. As soon as Bhajji got strike again, he let fly for another incredible six, and that too of Morkel who had been the Proteas' most successful bowler with 3 scalps in the match.

Then Nehra took a run off the last ball of the 47th over, reducing the equation to 5 off 18 balls. Nehra and Bhajji scampered two singles in the 48th over before Nehra swiped Botha for a boundary past mid on for a four to finish off the match. India had won by two wickets with 10 balls to spare.


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