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Lanka beat Aus by 9 runs ; India abandoned

News4u - Sports Desk : India were finally knocked out of the tri-series as Sri Lanka brought a heart-breaking end to their nervous wait with a nail-biting nine-run victory over Australia in the last over of a must-win contest on Friday.

India needed an Australian win to qualify for the finals but it was Sri Lanka who secured a passage to the summit showdown as they scraped past the hosts in a match which saw fortunes fluctuating from one team to another till the very end at the MCG.

Electing to bat, Sri Lanka put up a modest 238 runs and then bowled out the hosts for 229 to win with five balls to spare.

In then nerve-wrecking final moments of the game, Australianeeded 10 runs in the last over off Nuwan Kulasekara but David Hussey’s mighty heave was caught by Tillakaratne Dilshan at long-off to trigger off wild celebrations in the Sri Lankan camp.

Both Australia and Sri Lanka now have 19 points each and will clash in the best of three finals, beginning at Brisbane on Sunday.

India remained on 15 points and it marked the end of the a disastrous tour, in which they suffered a 4-0 Test series whitewash and had mixed results in the tri-series.

The Australian chase was guided well by stand-in skipper Shane Watson, who scored 65 runs, and David Hussey’s fighting 74, but they lacked the fire power in the end to overhaul the modest target.

For Sri Lanka Kumar Sangakkara (64), Dinesh Chandimal (75) and Lahiru Thirimanne (51) were the chief contributors to the total.

Lasith Malinga, who had a horrendous last match againstIndia, was the star performer this time as he picked four wickets including that of Watson, David Warner (6) and Peter Forrest (2).

Australia were reeling at 26 for three — having lost Matthew Wade (9), Warner and Forrest — when Watson and Mike Hussey steadied the chase with a 87-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

The match was looking like going Australia way but Lahiru Thrimanne broke the stand by scalping Hussey (29).

David was playing well from one end but was running out of partners with Watson, Daniel Christian (3) and James Patinson (12) departing early.

David fought hard with his fighting knock and was the last man dismissed. His effort was only enough to reduce the defeat margin.

Earlier, all-rounder Daniel Christian sparkled with a hat-trick during a career-best five-wicket burst as Australia dismissed Sri Lanka for 238.

Playing only his eighth ODI, the 28-year-old Christian’s hat-trick in the 44th over was the highlight of the first session’s play in today’s match — the batsmen falling victim to him being Thisara Perera (5), Sachithra Senanayke (0) and Nuwan Kulasekara (0).

The right-arm pacer ended the day with impressive match figures of 5-31 in nine overs. James Pattinson picked up four wickets, conceding 51 runs in his 10 overs.

Opting to bat first, it was a wobbly start to the proceedings for the islanders as they lost their openers with less than 20 runs on the scoreboard.

Skipper Mahela Jayawardene (5) was the first to head to the dressing room when he was run out by David Hussey in only the second over of the day.

It was Dilshan who called for a very risky single and Jayawardene responded after some hesitation.

Hussey, from the second slip, pounced on the ball with one hand and managed a direct hit finding Jayawardene well out out of his crease.

Dilshan didn’t last long either with comeback pacer James Pattinson getting his scalp after the right-hander had contributed merely nine runs to the total.

Dilshan was surprised by a bouncy one that caught him on the backfoot and ended up giving a thin edge through to Matthew Wade behind the stumps. Sri Lanka were reeling at 17/2 at this stage.

But the Lankans started the rebuilding job soon enough with the experienced Sangakkara and the exciting new talent Chandimal joining hands for an entertaining third-wicket partnership of 123.

Sangakkara was perfect foil to the natural aggression of Chandimal as the duo stitched together a crucial stand that resurrected the Lankan innings.

Sangakkara’s knock came off 93 deliveries during which he struck three boundaries before Pattinson induced a top edge off his bat that was caught by Peter Forrest at deep square leg off the final delivery of the 29th over.

But Chandimal held fort for quite some while and even got a life in a bizzare manner during the course of his innings which was studded with three fours and a couple of sixes.

In the 35th over of the innings, Thirimanne pushed for a risky third run off Australian skipper Shane Watson’s bowling.

Ben Hilfenhaus made a sliding effort at the point boundary which caught Chandimal well short of crease but the batsman was saved as TV replays showed that Hilfenhaus’ foot had touched the boundary rope before he threw the ball.

Chandimal was eventually dismissed by Pattinson, caught at mid-off by McKay while trying to strike one down the ground.

Thirimanne held one end with his gritty 59-ball knock that included a couple of boundaries but Sri Lanka needed an accelerator after Chandimal’s dismissal.

However, the usually effective Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera both let the team down.

While Mathews spooned a Christian delivery down the ground which was caught on the run by Xavier Doherty.

Perera was dismissed when he was caught by Mike Hussey at the deep midwicket boundary.

Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga

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India lose to Sri Lanka by 51 runs to languish at bottom

News4u-Sports Desk- India’s cricket tri-series campaign was thrown into disarray as they slipped to the bottom of the points table, losing to a rejuvenated Sri Lanka by 51 runs in another one-sided encounter at Brisbane on Tuesday. 

Chasing Sri Lanka’s imposing 289 for six, Indians suffered another top-order collapse and folded up for 238 in 45.1 overs to give the islanders their second successive victory.

The target of 290 was too stiff for the Indians under lights despite a good 96-run fourth wicket stand between Virat Kohli (66) and Suresh Raina (32) and a late counter-attack by Irfan Pathan who made 47 off 34 balls with seven boundaries.

Sri Lankans were well served by Nuwan Kulasekara first up who claimed 3 for 40, including the scalps of Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir, and Thisara Perera who took 4 for 37.

Kulasekara’s effort earned him the man-of-the-match award.

Sri Lanka now forges ahead of Indians on the points table though the latter were able to cross 231 and avoided conceding a bonus point.

Lankans now have 11 points from five matches while Indians have 10 from six games. Australia has 14 points from five games.

India’s chase couldn’t have begun on a worse note as stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag slashed at a wide delivery from Lasith Malinga and the catch ballooned up for third man fielder to complete the job.

Sachin Tendulkar (22) kept everyone interested during his brief stay. He once punched Lasith Malinga through covers and then flicked him through mid-wicket, both of whom were shots of highest pedigree.

But then he tried to leave a Kulasekara delivery and succeeded only in dragging the ball on to his stumps.

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Sachin Tendulkar is a ‘cricket god’: Hussey

News4u-Sports Desk-ADELAIDE: Completely enamoured withSachin Tendulkar in the present series, Australian batsman Michael Hussey feels it’s “inevitable” that the Indian icon would get his 100th century in due course.

“He has played brilliantly. Watching him closely, his footwork, the time he has and the straight bat, both off the front and backfoot, he’s playing really well. If he continues it’s inevitable,” said Hussey as he shaped up for the final Test at Adelaide, beginning on Tuesday.

“That’s the way batting goes. Sometimes you are playing well but one ball, one mistake and you are back to the pavilion. I am sure to his own mind he is batting well, his bat is as broad as ever at the moment,” Hussey added.

Tendulkar hasn’t got his desired 100th century from the first three Tests of the summer and his wait has only got extended to 10 Tests and 19 innings so far. But Hussey has only admiration for the iconic cricketer as described him as “cricket god” in India.

“I don’t know what he is going through mentally. I haven’t scored 99 centuries though I would love to be in that position and feel the pressure. I have admired him how he’s gone through his whole career. To score consistently at such a long period of time, deal with external pressures is amazing.

“He is a cricket god and yet how he handles himself in India, in a cricket-mad country, where just to walk on the street means being mobbed by thousands and thousands of people…to handle all this and put it aside and perform for India for over 20 years in international cricket is just amazing,” he said.

“He must be such a strong person mentally. I hope he bats well but his 100th century comes in the next series, not this one.”

The Indian team is drawing criticism for what is being described as lack of intensity in training but it found unlikely support in Hussey, who said the visitors are experienced enough to do well without long net sessions.

Australia lead the ongoing four-Test series 3-0 and the Indians have been roundly criticised by former players such as Sunil Gavaskar for not being intense enough in their training sessions.

Even though Australia’s practice sessions have been noticeably intense, Hussey didn’t think that the Indians were lacking in any measure.

“Indian players are so experienced, they know their games so well, they know what they need to be ready. I don’t feel laying down a few markers necessarily means (preparing better). It comes down to an individual (how they could) give off his best,” Hussey said.

It’s apparent each Australian bowler has bowled with extra zip in the nets. Hussey said it’s not just the bowlers, it’s the way Australians have looked to train under new coach Mickey Arthur.

“I don’t know if that’s the motivation. Since Mickey Arthur has taken over, there is a bit of a goal to raise the bar in training standards. The intensity, throughout this summer, has been very high.

“Whether fighting for last place or not, I expect all guys to maintain intensity.”

Another Indian cricketer for whom Hussey has a lot of praise is fast bowler Ishant Sharma who he feels has bowled without luck in this series.

“Ishant, if anything, has picked up little bit in pace from some spell I’ve faced from him in the past. He regularly touched 150 in a few of the spells in Melbourne. He bowled with real pace, at least early in the series but he bowled without luck.

“In the first two Tests, he beat the bat on numerous occasions. But the rub of the green didn’t go his way. He has bowled well, may be 50-50 things haven’t gone his way. Sometimes such things shape a series,” he said.

“I hope that continues for one more Test. He’s an outstanding bowler and I truly mean it, both with the new and old ball. I’m sure he’s going to come back pretty hard in this Test,” Hussey added.

Australians have prepared well for Ishant with batting coach Justin Langer standing up on a height and bowling to batsmen in order to simulate the style of Ishant.

Bowling coach Craig McDermott has laid down markers to make the bowlers bowl in good length areas in the nets.

“Each coach has his own ideas he has picked up along on his journey. Sometimes players also give their inputs. For example, the marker thing is from McDermott. (Michael) Clarke has suggested Langer stands on a stool little higher (from the ground).”

Hussey has no doubt that the Test in Adelaide would go longer than the previous ones which didn’t last the five days but wasn’t prepared to predict what the kind of surface it could turn out to be.

“The ideal scenario of course is to win the Test. But we are aware there’s lot of hard work for it’s a pretty good pitch. Having said so, there’s a little more grass than in previous years. I still think the pitch would play well and the Test would go longer than WACA anyway,” he said.

“It certainly does on first morning, the first session and then generally it’s a good batting pitch for a few days. (Early hours) is a crucial time for openers but then good runs can be had. It’s very crucial part of the game. In many ways, the first hour, the first session could shape the Test.

“I don’t know what the team is, no bowlers know it. It’s a tough choice for selectors. I would think Lyon to be back but in Perth we played with four quicks and there’s more grass here. So you never know, we might stick to the winning formula,” he added.

Reverse swing can be a factor in Adelaide and Ben Hilfenhaus, Australia’s go-to bowler this summer, is ideally suited to exploit it.

“With a lower-arm action, you could have a reverse swing to good effect. Traditionally, Adelaide Oval is a good batting wicket. But what’s a good ball in WACA or SCG is also in Adelaide. As long as you keep the pressure and are prepared to do over a long period of time.”

There’s a feeling that Australia could be back to their dominating days of 90s and 2000s when they were the most dominating team in world cricket.

“Definitely, there’s a quality in our bowling. Last year we were frustrated we weren’t able to apply pressure on England.

“This year the bowling has been outstanding. I know Indian batsmen have copped up a fair bit of criticism but credit is also due to our bowling unit. The amount of pressure they have applied, a good ball after good ball, hour after hour, session after session at end, has been the difference between winning and dominating the series.”

But Hussey still wasn’t prepared to rate his side as the best in the world already.

“There certainly is confidence but we aren’t there yet. There’s a lot of work to do. But we are going in right direction, the focus is clear and we are prepared to work hard. It still is a work in progress.”PTI

Australian middle-order batsman Michael Hussey

Australian middle-order batsman Michael Hussey

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3rd ODI: South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 4 runs (D/L method)

News4u-Sports Desk-BLOEMFONTEIN: Francois ‘Faf’ du Plessis made the top score and pulled off a spectacular run out as South Africa clinched a series victory in the third one-day international against World Cup finalists Sri Lanka at Chevrolet Park on Tuesday. 


Mainly due to Du Plessis making 72 off 74 balls, South Africa were four ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis par score when rain stopped play.

The home side were on 179 for five after 34 overs in reply to Sri Lanka’s 266 for nine and the result gave South Africa a winning 3-0 lead in the five-match series and extended the tourists poor run to six successive one day defeats.

Run outs played a crucial role in both innings.

Sri Lanka made a competitive total but it might have been considerably higher if their two star batsmen, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, had not been run out, both by direct hits.

Upul Tharanga (58) and captain Tillakaratne Dilshan (33) put on 94 for Sri Lanka’s first wicket.

Sangakkara, batting at number three, looked set to take full advantage of the good start on an easy-paced pitch as he stroked his way to 38 off 37 balls.

But Sangakkara fell to a superb piece of fielding by Du Plessis, who dived far to his left at backward point to stop a cut by Dinesh Chandimal, then hit the stumps at the batsman’s end with Sangakkara stranded after the batsmen hesitated.

Jayawardene was run out for 15, four balls into the batting powerplay in the 36th over, when he was sent back by Chandimal, slipped as he turned and could not recover to beat an accurate throw from Colin Ingram at mid-off.

“Mahela’s and Sanga’s run outs cost us 20 runs,” said Dilshan, who added that some sloppy fielding by his team had cost another 20 runs when South Africa batted.

Lasith Malinga made two early strikes in the South African innings, bowling Graeme Smith and Colin Ingram, and South Africa slumped to 52 for three when Alviro Petersen missed a reverse sweep and was leg before wicket to Dilshan.

Du Plessis and JP Duminy put on 61 in a fourth wicket stand marked by aggressive running between wickets before Duminy fell to a direct hit by Nuwan Kulasekera from mid-off.

Du Plessis went to a career-best score before he became another run out victim, with Angelo Mathews making a quick pick-up and throw from cover.

Rain started to fall in the 33rd over, at the end of which South Africa were one behind according to the Duckworth/Lewis method.

Dilshan brought Malinga back into the attack but the unorthodox fast bowler conceded eight runs to South African captain AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel before the rain intensified and play was halted.

On a pitch which offered no assistance to the bowlers, Tharanga and Du Plessis were the only batsmen to achieve half-centuries.

The left-handed Tharanga dominated the opening stand with Dilshan and reached a stylish 50 when Dilshan, who failed to score in the first two matches, was on 18. Tharanga made his 58 off 65 balls with five fours and two sixes.

Dilshan, who had less of the strike during the partnership, scored 33 off 49 balls with two fours.

Despite senior batsmen Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis having been released from the South African squad, Du Plessis was promoted to number four in the South African order as part of a rotation policy with De Villiers and Duminy.

He responded with some crisp strokeplay in an innings which included seven fours. He was suffering from cramp towards the end of his innings which he admitted contributed to him being run out.

De Villiers said he would have preferred the match to have gone the distance.

“I thought we were in a good position although the game was in the balance,” he said.AFP



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West Indies beat India to stay alive in ODI series

News4u-Sports - Rohit Sharma’s sparkling 95 was in vain as West Indies beat India by 16 runs in the third one-day international to stay afloat in the five-match series at Ahmedabad’s Sardar Patel Stadium on Monday.

 

Having dropped Sharma on 33, West Indies skipper Darren Sammy redeemed himself with a direct throw in the 44th over as India, chasing 261 for a third successive win that would have sealed the series, folded for 244 in 46.5 overs.

Sharma’s 100-ball knock, which included 10 hits to the fence and a six, was his third successive half-century in the series which his team lead 2-1.

Ravi Rampaul (4-57) derailed India’s chase almost as soon as it began by removing the scoreless duo of captain Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir with his first two deliveries.

Sehwag edged to depart caught behind while Gambhir was trapped leg before, leaving India tottering on eight for two wickets.

Barring opener Parthiv Patel (39), none of the Indian top order batsmen could do justice to their reputation and it was Sharma’s 91-run seventh-wicket stand with Ravichandran Ashwin (31) that took India near the target.

West Indies were put into bat and Marlon Samuels top-scored with a sedate 58 but it was the unbeaten 79-run stand between Sammy (41 not out) and Andrew Russell (40 not out) off 5.4 overs that helped West Indies to overcome a sluggish start and post 260 for five.

The visitors lost opener Lendl Simmons (1) in the third over and were also denied the service of another in-form player, Darren Bravo (26), when the batsman retired hurt with a hamstring problem.

Samuels tried to steady the innings but the run rate nosedived, prompting him to go after Umesh Yadav in the 19th over, hitting the bowler for a couple of fours and a six.

West Indies lost three cheap wickets to slump to 181 for five in the 45th over before Sammy paired up with Russell to provide the late surge to power them past 250.

Sammy hit Abhimanyu Mithun for two sixes and as many fours in the 49th over, while Russell struck two fours and a six off the final over sent down by Yadav.

West Indies milked 93 runs off the last seven overs and 43 off the last two.

Indore hosts the fourth one-dayer on Thursday.

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Rohit’s heroics lead India to series win

News4u - Sports Desk :

Rohit Sharma scored a fantastic unbeaten 86 under pressure as India beat West Indies by three wickets to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series in Antigua on Saturday.

 

Chasing a target of 226, the visitors were reeling at 92 for six but Rohit (86 not out, 91 balls, 5×4, 2×6) along with senior-pro Harbhajan Singh (41, 64 balls, 1×6, 1×4) added 88 runs as India finally got home rather comfortably with 22 balls to spare.

The last two matches of the series will thus be rendered inconsequential as Rohit kept his composure when the team was in dire straits.

He got an able ally in Harbhajan as the two batted with utmost responsbility.

They never did anything flashy during their seventh wicket stand that lasted 18.4 overs.

Save Parthiv Patel (46, 56 balls, 4×4, 1×6), none of the top-order batsmen showed intent although Virat Kohli got a poor leg-before decision when the ball seemed to be travelling down leg-side.

Shikhar Dhawan (4) struggled, Subramanium Badrinath (11) went for a non-existent single, Suresh Raina was out to a ugly heave.

When Yusuf Pathan was brilliantly caught by Lendl Simmons to reduce India to 92 for six, it looked like all but over for the Men In Blue.

But Rohit had other ideas. Along with Harbhajan, he ran the singles well but didn’t forget to punish the loose deliveries in the process.

Praveen Kumar (25 no, 14 balls) provided final flourish after Harbhajan was dismissed.

 

 

rohit sharma

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Yusuf shines as India win thriller

News4u-Sports Desk-Courtesy Cricinfo-India 223 for 8 (Yusuf 59, Harbhajan 23*, Morne 3-28) beat South Africa 220 (du Plessis 60, Duminy 52) by two wickets
Yusuf Pathan swung the game India’s way with three brutal shots and Harbhajan Singh sealed the win with two violent game-breaking hits. Morne Morkel had threatened to derail India’s chase with an inspired performance but it was India who held their nerve, and took a 2-1 lead in the series. India were 104 runs adrift of the target when Yusuf cemented his World Cup spot by biffing Johan Botha for three sixes in an over to push India ahead. When he fell, 39 runs short of the target, Harbhajan crashed Wayne Parnell and Morne for stunning sixes at vital moments of the chase to clinch the game, with 10 balls to spare.

India had lost five wickets and looked down for the count on a sluggish pitch where stroke-making wasn’t easy when Yusuf launched a violent assault on Botha. He muscled three sixes, the last of which flew out of the stadium, to loot 19 runs in the 30th over. Yusuf added 75 runs with Suresh Raina, who threw his wicket away with a wild shot in the 37th over, before falling in the 40th to a stunning catch by Morne, who arched back to pouch an upper cut over his head at third man. His dismissal put South Africa ahead but Harbhajan seized the moment. He added 26 runs with Zaheer Khan before stitching together another 15 with Ashish Nehra to take India home. Harbhajan took the Powerplay in the 43rd over, smote Parnell for a six over wide mid-off in the 45th, and flat-batted Morne, bowling his last over, beyond long-off in the 47th to kill the contest.

Control was a loose concept during the match as whenever South Africa got ahead, India pulled them back and vice versa. In the end Yusuf’s innings proved the difference. Yusuf’s strength is his mental tenacity. His short-ball woes are well documented but he rarely lets a delivery in his hitting arc go unpunished. Unlike Raina, he doesn’t hang back and expect bouncers every ball, and today, too, that temperament was on display.

Until that game-breaking 30th over bowled by Botha, it was South Africa who held the edge, courtesy of Morne. He dismissed the in-form Virat Kohli to put India in trouble early, later got rid of Raina to resuscitate fading hopes, and grabbed a stunning catch to dismiss Yusuf, but still had to end up on the losing side.

In hindsight, South Africa will feel they were 25 runs short. A shaky Graeme Smith was the reason South Africa dawdled at the start, and it was also due to him that they stayed afloat for a while. However, his dismissal in the 23rd over left them wobbling at 90 for 4, but JP Duminy and the debutant Faf du Plessis showed admirable maturity to revive the innings and give it respectability.

du Plessis’ serenity under pressure was reflected by the fact that he hit his first boundary - a crisp cut off Yuvraj Singh - after he had reached 39. It’s not a criticism but a tribute to his mature approach that there were just two shots that stood out in his innings: the first was that cut shot and the second, which came after his half-century, was a skillful one that hinted at a larger repertoire that he had deliberately held under check. He went down the track to Munaf Patel, adjusted to the slower one, and managed to punch it on the up and over mid-off. Mostly, he kept things risk-free like an experienced pro and dealt in calculated nudges and pushes. He brought up his half-century with a dab to the on side and brought up the century partnership with Duminy, in the 44th over, with a swatted pull through midwicket.

For his part, Duminy, who set off South Africa’s collapse in the second ODI at the Bull Ring by holing out to long-on, too remained patient and worked the angles. He flicked and square drove and adjusted to the slow pace. The ball didn’t come on to the bat neatly but he waited on the front foot, to steer and dab his way through the difficult period. However, both batsmen fell in the space of four deliveries, after they took the Batting Powerplay in the 45th over, and South Africa crumbled in the end overs, losing their last six wickets for 20 runs.

It was a torrid time for Smith, first against Zaheer, and soon against everyone. However, perhaps due to the brittle nature of the lower order, he never dared to hit his way out of trouble. During a sequence of 11 deliveries from Zaheer when he was beaten nine times, Smith actually looked at the bowler and smiled. There was a touch of embarrassment in it but it was also a smile of a man who seemed to have accepted the situation he was in; he chose to graft and was willing to look ugly from then on. Considering what happened in Johannesburg, where Smith made 77 but the batting collapse after he was out, it was perhaps the right thing to do as his team needed its leader to fight. Inspired by his grit, Duminy and du Plessis batted with care to propel South Africa to a fighting total but Yusuf and Harbhajan did enough to chase it down.

India vs South Africa

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Munaf guides India to narrow one-wicket win in 2nd ODI

News4u-Sports Desk-Munaf Patel led India’s stunning comeback as the visitors eked out a narrow one-run win over South Africa in a nail-biting finish in the second one-day international match in Johannesburg on Saturday.

After being bowled out for 190, India restricted South Africa to 189, thanks largely to Munaf’s four wickets that also included the important scalps of dangerman Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith.

Munaf, who picked up four for 29 runs, combined with spearhead Zaheer Khan who accounted for two dismissals, to script a historic win at the New Wanderers Stadium where fortunes ebbed and flowed throughout the South African innings.

It could have been anybody’s game till Munaf had Wayne Parnell caught at point by Yuvraj Singh to signal the end of a dramatic match in the 43rd over.

India vs South Africa

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Clinical SAfrica maul India by 135 runs

News4u-Sports Desk-India suffered a top-order collapse to slump to a humiliating 135-run defeat against a clinical South Africain the first cricket one-dayer in Durban on Wednesday.

Chasing 290 for victory, Indiawere never in the hunt after they lost their first four batsmen for just 43 runs and were ultimately bundled out for 154 in 35.4 overs.

Virat Kohli top-scored for India with a well-made 54 off 70 balls and together with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (25 off 35) added 52 runs for the fifth wicket to take India past the 150-mark.

Apart from Kohli and Dhoni, Suresh Raina was the other notable contributory for India with 32 off 36 balls.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe was the pick of the South African bowlers with figures of four for 31 while pace partners Dale Steyn (2/29) and Morne Morkel (2/12) scalped two wickets apiece.

Earlier, AB de Villers and JP Duminy notched up contrasting half centuries to propel South Africa to a challenging 289 for nine.

South Africa were looking good for a few more, but four wickets for just 56 runs in the last 10 overs somewhat foiled their plans.

Duminy (73 off 89) and de Villiers (76 off 69) scored at will, picking the gaps and finding the boundaries with consummate ease, after Hashim Amla (50 off 36) gave the hosts a flying start with an aggressive half-century at the Sahara Stadium in Kingsmead here.

For India, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and Rohit Sharma finished with two wickets each, while Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra and Raina accounted for a victim each.

India’s run chase started on a precarious note as Murali Vijay fell in the fourth ball of the innings, lbw to Steyn.

If that was not enough, already carrying a depleted batting line-up in the absence of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, India were dealt a severe blow in the fourth over when Sachin Tendulkar perished, top-edging a Tsotsobe delivery to Steyn at fine leg with the visitors scoreboard reading 13 for two.

India’s problems were further compounded when Morkel struck twin blows in the 11th over.

Rohit was the first of Morkel’s victim, caught by wicket-keeper de Villiers in the first ball of the 11th over but the batsman felt otherwise and left the ground dejected at umpire Simon Taufel’s decision.

Much was expected from new man in Yuvraj Singh but he too failed to live up to his reputation as he departed three balls later, nicking another to de Villiers off Morkel.

Soon after arriving at the pitch, Dhoni tried to force his way out of the trouble with some attacking shots but he too found the going tough against the disciplined Protea attack.

India’s struggle can be gauged from the fact that they found the fence only twice in the first 15 overs.

Kohli and Dhoni then played sensible cricket with ones and twos to steady the ship before Kohli opened up cloberring Joahn Botha for a straight six and a four off back-to-back deliveries in the 22nd over.

Inspired by his junior team-mate’s strokeplay, Dhoni then broke his shackles with a boundary off Botha to pile up 15 runs of the 22nd over.

But just when it seemed India were slowly and steadily getting back into the match, Dhoni fell victim to an unlucky run out.

The Indian skipper was caught off guard when Wayne Parnell got a finger tip to a well-timed Kohli straight drive, which crashed into the stumps at the bowler’s end to draw curtains on the dangerous-looking partnership.

With the asking rate hovering up, Suresh Raina tried to relieve the pressure with a six off Botha but going for one too many he almost lost his wicket. He top-edged a slog sweep that fell in between a diving a David Miller and Parnell.

Smith’s decision to call back Steyn into the attack in the 30th over struck gold when the pacer had Kohli caught by the Protea skipper himself in the mid-wicket but not before the right-hander scored his fifty during which he struck two fours and a lone six.

Then Harbhajan did little help to his side’s cause departing for a duck, bowled by Parnell.

And once Raina departed, caught by Coil Ingram of Tsotsobe, victory was just a formality for the home team.

Earlier, batting first after winning the toss, South Africa rode on Amla’s initial burst and then de Villiers and Duminy’s partnership to post the challenging total.

While boundaries kept coming at regular intervals as long as de Viiliers and Duminy were at the crease, the two also ran hard between the wickets to steal the singles and twos.

After Munaf brought to an end the out-of-sorts Ingram’s 34-minute stay in the middle, de Villiers signalled his arrival with two fours on either off Nehra.

Along with Duminy, who came in at the fall of Amla’s wicket, de Villiers rebuilt the hosts’ innings by playing some sensible cricket.

De Villiers’ knock, which included seven fours and one six, was in stark contrast to the one played by Duminy.

While the former found the boundaries at will, including a straight six off Harbhajan midway into the innings, Duminy relied on ones and the twos.

He, however, sent a Yuvraj delivery over long-on for the maximum. Apart from that six, Duminy had just one four to show for.

Thanks to the de Villiers-Duminy combo, South Africa were cruising at 213 for three before the 131-run partnership came to an end, courtesy Rohit who was lucky that his long hop found Harbhajan’s safe hands at deep mid-wicket.

Miller came and left but the hosts were dealt a big blow when Duminy, trying to reverse sweep Rohit, found himself trapped.

That pegged South Africa back who scored less than 100 runs in the last 15 overs, and just 45 after Duminy’s departure in the 42nd over.

Botha (23) and Parnell (21 not out) collected some useful runs in the last few overs to lead their team to a comfortable total.

But it all started with the classy Amla, who averages over 60 in the shorter format of the game, giving South Africa a tremendous start, carting the Indian bowlers to all corners of the ground.

Even as Smith looked a bit scratchy during his brief stay at the crease, Amla was elegance personified.

He creamed Nehra through the covers to open his account, but soon got a reprieve when a diving Rohit failed to pounce on to — what many would call a missed chance — off a Zaheer delivery.

Soon after getting a life, Amla launched into an array of dazzling shots leaving the Indian fielders gasping for breath.

While none of the Indian bowlers were spared during his 36-ball 50, Amla was particularly severe on Nehra smashing the left-armer for 17 runs, including three successive boundaries off the first three deliveries, in his third over.

The opener then punished Zaheer by glancing one off his pas, before collecting two more boundaries off Munaf.

Such was his onslaught that South Africa’s fifty was up in the seventh over of the innings, but, going for one too many, Amla was holed out to Harbhajan off Munaf.

Thereafter, the duo of Duminy and de Villiers consolidated the innings with a century partnership.

India vs South Africa

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India on a high ahead of ODI series against SA

News4u-Sports Desk-pti-DURBAN: Injury-hit but on a roll after drawing an engrossing Test series and winning the only Twenty20 match of the tour, India now get a chance to try different combinations before next month’s World Cup when they take on South Africa in a five-match one-day series starting on Wednesday.

Dubbed challenging to start with, the African safari has been reasonably successful for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men, who avoided a Test series loss in the country for the first time earlier this month.

But there have been problems to deal with and they have mostly been about players’ fitness.

Already missing key players such as Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, the injury list has only grown longer with the pace duo of Praveen Kumar and S Sreesanth in doubt for Wednesday due to hand and elbow problems respectively.

It is the final ODI series that India and South Africa play before the World Cup starting on February 19 and both the sides would look to settle their squads for the big event through these five matches.

The series is a golden opportunity for the likes of Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina to make a case for World Cup selection.

They did well for themselves and the team by guiding India to a fine 21-run win in the Twenty20 match on Sunday with valuable batting contributions.

The absence of biggies such as Sehwag and Gambhir now gives them an opportunity to hog the limelight in the ODIs as well but also creates the pressure of performing and performing consistently.

The series will see the return of the iconic Sachin Tendulkar to the Indian one-day fold after close to a year. The last time he played an ODI, Tendulkar became the first batsman in the history of the game’s format to strike a double hundred.

The opposition in that historic match at Gwalior also happened to be South Africa and Graeme Smith and his men would be praying that the champion batsman does not do an encore.

For the off-colour Yuvraj Singh, it is the final chance to convince the selectors that he is the same destructive force which won India many a matches before the stunning slump of form.

On the bowling front, the ever-reliable Zaheer Khan will spearhead the attack after being rested for Sunday’s Twenty20 international but his back-up seems a little weak given the uncertainty over the availability of Sreesanth and Praveen.

In case the injured duo is ruled out, Ashish Nehra and the rather inconsistent Munaf Patel would be the options for India. Harbhajan Singh will as usual shoulder the spin responsibilities.

South Africa, on the other hand, would be, missing prolific all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who is nursing an injury. The veteran has been the rock around whom the South African batting has revolved as was evident during the drawn Test series.

But the Proteas still have a good batting reserve with skipper Graeme Smith, the explosive duo of A B de Villiers and JP Duminy and the consistent Hashim Amla to anchor the middle-order.

As for bowling, Dale Steyn has been in red hot form and has Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell as his speed partners.

All eyes will also be on the 31-year-old Pakistan-born spinner Imran Tahir, who is expected to make his debut after getting South African citizenship a few weeks ago.

Teams

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/keeper), Sachin Tendulkar, Murali Vijay, Yuvraj Singh, R Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, S Sreesanth.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Colin Ingram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Umpires: Brian Jerling (RSA), Simon Taufel (AUS) TV umpire: Marais Erasmus (RSA) Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG) Match starts: 1800 hrs (IST).

India vs South Africa

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