Vaibhav Arora/Zeecric Bureau
Cape Town: A terrific all-round performance by the Indian team saw them beat South Africa by 2 wickets in the third ODI at Cape Town to take a 2-1 lead in the five match series.
It was a match where fortunes swung from one team to another at quick pace. In the end, it was Yusuf Pathan’s quick fire 59, which also won him the Man of the Match award, and a cameo innings of 23 by Harbhajan Singh towards the end that saw India overhaul South Africa’s total of 220 with 10 balls to spare.
Playing without some of their top batsmen, India were in trouble at 93/5 before a half century partnership between Yusuf and Suresh Raina brought them back into the game.
For South Africa, Dale Steyn took 2 wickets while Morne Morkel captured 3 scalps.
The Indian innings started on a disastrous note as Murali Vijay (1) departed with just 4 runs on the board. However, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli weaved a 50-run partnership; but, just when it looked like they would take India to a comfortable position, Kohli was removed by Morkel.
Morkel struck again shortly to clean up Rohit off a delivery that seemed to have kept a bit low. India were 61/3. With Dhoni too falling just 8 runs later, India were most certainly out of the contest.
A little while later, Yuvraj Singh became the fifth Indian wicket to fall with the team total reading 93. Yuvraj was trapped in front of the wickets by Duminy for 16.
After losing half of their team with just 93 runs on the board, the duo of Yusuf Pathan and Suresh Raina brought the tourists back into the game as they put on a 50 partnership in good time and helped India cross the 150 mark. Yusuf in particular raised Indian hopes with some lusty hitting. The big hitting all-rounder smashed Johan Botha for three sixes in an over.
Raina, however, departed at the other end while trying to play an expansive shot off Morkel. Defeat looked imminent when Pathan fell to Steyn for 59.
But, there was another twist in the tale as Harbhajan and Zaheer added 26 runs for the eighth wicket.
In the end, Nehra smashed Botha for a four off the second delivery of the 49th over to seal India’s win.
Earlier in the day, Despite a century partnership between Jean-Paul Duminy (52) and debutant Fau du Plessis (60), South Africa were all out for just 220.
However, things could have been worse as the home team, who never looked settled against a disciplined Indian bowling effort, were struggling at 90/4 at one point of time before Duminy and du Plessis came together to put on 110.
But, just when it seemed like South Africa would score close to 250, the Indian bowlers struck again. du Plessis departed while trying to up the run rate as the home team lost their fifth wicket with 200 runs on the board. The wicket seemed to have opened the flood gates as the Proteas lost all their remaining wickets within a span of 20 runs.
While Duminy was cleaned up by Zaheer Khan (3/43), Wayne Parnell (5) was run out as he tried to steal a single which was never there.
Munaf Patel (2/42) then came back to remove Dale Steyn (5), who tried to smash one outside the ground but only managed to find Suresh Raina at deep midwicket.
Johan Botha (9) was bowled by Zaheer while last man Tsotsobe (0) was run out as SA innings folded up with four balls still remaining in the innings.
Earlier in the morning, Zaheer bowled a tight line and beat the bat of SA skipper Graeme Smith (43) on numerous occasions without much luck. Although he could not get Smith, Zaheer clean bowled Hashim Amla (16) to reduce the home team to 31/1.
Runs were hard to come by and the batsmen’s trouble was compounded by some disciplined bowling by the Indians. Harbhajan Singh (2/23) took his first wicket in the form of Colin Ingram (10) with the score on 49. Although Smith and AB de Villers (16) tried to build a partnership, Yusuf Pathan (1/27) struck with his third ball of the innings as Zaheer took a blinder at wide long-on to reduce SA to 83/3.
Smith’s struggle in the middle, too, ended shortly after he was removed by Harbhajan. Smith was caught at slip by a diving Kohli as he attempted a sweep that hit the back of the bat.