Nagpur, March 12: Shirking their tag of "chokers", South Africa chased down India's total of 296 in a cliff-hanger of a World Cup match at Nagpur. Robin Petersen held his nerve superbly at the death to knock off the 13 runs required in the last over. Earlier in the innings, South Africa struggled to make up the deficit between runs required and balls remaining, although substantial contributions from Hashim Amla with 61 and Jacques Kallis with 68, set the groundwork for the team to launch out towards the target. Harbhahjan Singh was India's most effective bowler, taking 3/53 off 9 overs. India's innings had been highlighted by a brilliant 6th World Cup century from Sachin Tendulkar.
After South Africa had batted relatively cautiously to reach 115/1 in 25 overs, they were faced with the task of cranking up the run-rate. But Hashim Amla who was looking to go after Harbhajan Singh unfortunately fell to him when in the 28th over, he was caught behind for 61 off 72 balls. South Africa were 127/2 when A B de VIlliers walked to the crease.
Two overs later, Kallis attacked Bhajji, knocking off two consecutive boundaries off him. In the bowler's next over, de Villiers carted him for a huge mid-wicket six to bring up South Africa's 150 in the 32nd over. But shortly afterward, this flourishing partnershup breathed its last when Kallis was run out courtesy a brilliant throw from Harbhajan. The batsman departed for 69 off 88 balls and SA were 173/3 in 35.4 overs.
The new batsman J P Duminy, settled in with a four down to third man off Nehra before De Villiers Chinese cut him for the same result. It was clear the batsmen were looking to up the ante. They then got Munaf Patel away for two boundaries in the 39th over, to bring up SA's 200 and dealt two similar blows to Zaheer in the 40th before carting him for a six.
Then de Villiers brought up his 50 with a reverse sweep off Bhajji. But in the very next ball, the bowler had the batsman walking for 52 off 39 balls. South Africa were 223/4 still requiring 74 off 57 balls. With 57 runs required off 42 balls, Gautam Gambhir dropped Van Wyk at deep midwicket, with the ball trickling through the boundary for four. But just two balls later, Munaf trapped the same batsman in front for 5 off 5 balls.
At that stage, South Africa needed 50 off 36 with 4 wickets in hand. Two overs later, South Africa had reduced the equation to 36 required off 24 and 31 off 18, before Botha struck a four and six off Munaf. But then he was caught brilliantly by Suresh Raina and South Africa needed 18 off 13 with Robin Peterson the new man at the crease.
Then Zaheer bowled a tight penultimate over, conceding just 4 runs. With 13 runs required off the last over, Robin Peterson inside-edged Nehra for a boundary and then struck him for a magnificent six, before running a double and hitting another boundary to finish off the match.
South Africa started off their innings on a more cautious note than India, but Hashim Amla struck the first four off just the second ball, Zaheer Khan being the bowler. Then Graeme Smith got Ashsih Nehra away for a boundary in the second over. Then in the 6th over, Amla got stuck into Nehra, striking him for two consecutive fours. Amla subjected Nehra to similar treatment in the 8th over, as the Proteas scaled to 37/0.
Then Graeme Smith carted Zaheer over the top for a four, but was out next ball when he was caught by Tendulkar at extra cover. Smith was on his way for 16 as SA were 41/1 in 8.3 overs. Amla took a double of Nehra in the 13th over to bring up South Afica's 50.
He and Kallis kept plugging away for ones and twos, but didn't show any real urgency as the score moved to 89/1 in 20 overs. Two overs later, Amla took a single off Yuvraj to notch up his 50 off 56 balls and in the 23rd over, South Africa crossed 100.