Zeecric Bureau/Sudeshna Guha Roy
Jaipur: Neither the heroics of Jacques Kallis, nor the last moment struggle by Wayne Parnell and Dale Steyn could save South Africa, as a nail-bitting, nerve wrecking first one-dayer came to an end with India grabbing a 1-run victory at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday.
With a complete top and middle order collapse, Kallis seemed like waging a lone battle. His stupendous 89 runs made him the highest scorer of the match.
Winning the toss early in the day, stand-in skipper Kallis opted to field first. Hoping to make complete use of the ‘high-scoring’ pitch, India’s batting campaign started on an absolutely contrary note as the hosts lost Sachin Tendulkar (4) in the second over itself.
The onus, thus, came on Virender Sehwag (46) and Dinesh Karthik (44) to make-up for the loss. Both the batsman, however, fell short of their respective half-centuries by a few runs.
Later, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (26) too couldn’t do much to repair the damage. After a series fall of wickets earlier in the game, Suresh Raina, along with Virat Kohli (31), gave some stability to the team’s score.
Though the spectators missed the delight of a strong partnership in the Indian innings, it was Suresh Raina’s short yet powerful innings of 58 runs that gave them the much needed entertainment. He was the only batsman in the Indian line-up to Raina claimed his 15th ODI fifty with the help of six boundaries and a super six before Jacques Kallis played the spoilsport, getting him caught by Mark Boucher. That was also the 250th ODI wicket for Kallis.
Towards the end of the Indian innings, Ashish Nehra (16 not out) played a short cameo with Praveen Kumar (13), leading India to a competitive score of 298/9.
Chasing a difficult but achievable score of 299 runs, the Proteas campaign was first hit by the loss of the opening pair, Loots Bosman and Herschelle Gibbs, soon after they crossed 50 for their team.
It was then when Kallis came into the front foot and kept on fighting till, until Sreesanth played the spoilsport and bowled him out for 89 runs. Sadly, none of the batsman could be of much support to Kallis.
Towards the end, to say that the commitment of Wayne Parnell (49) and Dale Steyn (35) was par excellence would be shame. The duo almost changed the game in favour of the visitors in the last 15 minutes. Both the batsmen hit some big shots in a hope for a miraculous triumph, but unfortunately couldn’t succeed.
With just three runs needed from a ball to win the match, it was the final run-out of Parnell by Dhoni that at last gave India the thrilling 1-wicket victory.
Ravinder Jadeja’s exploits with the bat (22 runs of 20 balls) and the ball (2 for 29 runs) earned him the Man of the Match award
India: SR Tendulkar, V Sehwag, V Kohli, MS Dhoni*†, SK Raina, YK Pathan, KD Karthik, RA Jadeja, P Kumar, A Nehra, S Sreesanth
South Africa: HH Gibbs, LL Bosman, JH Kallis*, AB de Villiers, AN Petersen, JA Morkel, MV Boucher†, J Botha, WD Parnell, DW Steyn, CK Langeveldt