Nagpur, March 12: In one of the most dramatic turn-arounds in one-day cricket, South Africa bowled out India for 296 after the the latter was 267/2 in 39.4 overs. Some irresponsible batting from India and some inspired bowling and fielding from South Africa saw the home-side lose 9 wickets for 29 runs. Proteas' ace paceman Dale Steyn almost single-handedly reversed the fortunes of his side by taking 5/50. Earlier in the day, India were cruising after an opening stand of 142 in just 17.4 overs before Sachin Tendulkar went on to score his 48th one-day century, his 99th ton overall and his 6th in world cups.
After India reached 174/1 in 25 overs, they kicked on, bringing up the 200 in the 31st over courtesy a four off Tendulkar's bat. Then Gambhir got into the act, clobbering Duminy for two consecutive fours in the 34th over as India climbed to 230/1.
In the 36th over, Tendulkar picked a run off Morkel to bring up his 99th international century and 6th in World Cups. It came off just 92 balls with 7 fours and 3 sixes. Then in the every next ball, Gautam ran a singtle to notch up his fifty.
With those respectively milestones out of the way, the batsman looked at cutting loose.While Gambhir knocked a boundary off Kallis in the 37th over, Tendulkar did the same to Morkel in the 38th and scurried a few doubles as India climbed to 250/1.
Then in the 40th over, Tendulkar's innings finally came to an end for 111 off 101 balls when he was caught by Duminy at point, off Morkel. Inn the very next over, Gambhir was caught at mid off off the bwoling of Steyn and suddenly India were 268/3. Just two balls later, Yusuf Pathan was out for a duck and India were wobbling at 268/4 in 40.3 overs.
The Indian slide didn't stop there. Yuvraj Singh holed out to long on for 12 off 9 balls at the end of the 43rd over, while in the next Virat Kohli was caught and bowled to Peterson for 1 off 3 balls. The score was ta a precarious 283/6 with Harbhajan Singh and M S Dhoni at the crease.
But the former couldn't hold out against the pace of Steyn and was cleaned up by him for 3 as India slipped to 293/7. Then Zaheer Khan went for an irresponsible hoick over long off, but only managed to find the hands of Morkel. Then Steyn polished off the tail, getting Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel out for ducks. India were all out for 296 with Steyn getting 5/50.
For the fifth consecutive time this World Cup, Virender Sehwag struck the first ball of India's innings for a four. The bowler Dale Steyn, returned to nearly trap the batsman in front. Then in the second over, Sehwag edged Morne Morkel between the keeper and first slip for another four.
Steyn then had a messy 2nd over, going for 14 runs, including for 5 wides, 4 overthrows and a boundary. In the fifth over, Sehwag again got Steyn away for a boundary as India climbed to 33/0 in 5 overs. Then the batsman attacked Morkel again, spanking him for three fours in the 6th over.
Sehwag greeted first-change bowler Jacques Kallis by carting him away for a boundary to bring up India's 50 in just 6.4 overs. Then Tendulkar got into the act, smashing the same bolwer for another four to round off the over. Sehwag and Tendulkar continued to butcher Morkel, teaming up to take three fours off him in the 8th over.
But the carnage was far from over. In the 10th over, Sachin pulled Steyn for a six over square leg. In the 11th over, with the score at 93/0, off-spinner Robin Peterson was introduced into the attack. But Sehwag couldn't be put off. He smacked the bowler for his 10th four to bring up his 50 off just 44 balls. In the same over, India brought up 100/0.
Two overs later, Tendulkar took a single off Peterson to notch up his 50 off 33 balls. Sehwag came in for a bit of luck in the 17th over, when he was dropped by the keeper off Johan Botha.
But in the next over, he wasn't as fortunate when Faf du Plessis bowled him for 73 off 66 balls. India were still in a supremely strongh position at 142/1 in 17.4 overs. New batsman Gautam Gambhir took a single of du Plessis to bring up India's 150 in the 20th over. The batting duo kept plugging away for singles and doubles, reaching 175/1 in 25 overs.