Meek surrender

With fine wrist and seam positions, South Africa's bowlers bowled telling short-pitched deliveries, hitting the bat hard. The pace pack was buzzing from both ends and there was no respite for the Indians. S. Ram Mahesh reports.

After a humdinger of a Test series where India was humming, South Africa showed that it comprehended the craft of playing limited-overs cricket at home in the first ODI. Graeme Smith's men made all the right moves, they oozed commitment in the cauldron.

Importantly, South Africa had the rub of the green with the toss. With fine wrist and seam positions, South Africa's bowlers bowled telling short-pitched deliveries, hitting the bat hard. The pace pack was buzzing from both ends. There was no respite for the Indians.

South Africa's bowlers were on a ball under the lights. The Indian chase was rocked early. Despite a brave half-century from Virat Kohli — he unleashed a few stunning shots after being lucky early — there was no comeback for the Indians.

After M. Vijay had appeared clueless against Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe flexed his muscles at Kingsmead. Man of the match, he was. He took the big wicket of Sachin Tendulkar and then added three more to finish with four for 31. In the press conference, eyes smiling, his radiant visage lighting up the room, Tsotsobe said, “It's an honour to keep getting a man I wish to get. But I don't want to make the man angry (by talking about it).” It was a dream within a dream for the left-armer.

Morne Morkel donned the key role in the 11th over. Rohit Sharma nibbled at a straightening delivery from Morkel and paid the price; the replays didn't indicate a snick. Then Yuvraj, whose batting has the flow of a natural on lower bouncing pitches, was squared up. He fended the ball to slip. It was a lethal ball from a gifted bowler.

Kohli and M. S. Dhoni saved India some embarrassment with a half-century partnership. But then, when you're chasing 290, it isn't enough.

In the first-half of the contest, A. B. de Villiers (76) and J. P. Duminy (73) held centre-stage with a 131-run partnership. The right-left partnership troubled India's bowlers. De Villiers saw the ball early and played it late. He displayed his complete repertoire, even playing the reverse-sweep. Duminy batted with the right blend of caution and fluidity. Crucially, he supported de Villiers. The wristy flicks were on view from both batsmen.

Hashim Amla had earlier blazed away to 50 to give South Africa a rocking start. Although Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel bowled with control, Ashish Nehra proved expensive. India's part-time bowlers brought their side back into the match, but the batsmen let the team down in the chase.

“It wasn't a 300 wicket, and we did pretty well to get 289,” said South African captain Smith. “Hashim (Amla) batted very well, and then J. P. Duminy and A. B. de Villiers put on a terrific partnership. The (Batting) Power Play worked very well for us. We didn't want to push for 300 and get bowled out for 270. We knew the slow outfield would give us 25 runs, and so it was a case of being street-smart and not pushing too much.”

Indian captain Dhoni conceded that the bad start had cost his team. “With wickets in hand, we might have fancied our chances,” he said. “The white Kookaburra ball does a bit but I don't think it was anything unplayable. We should have negotiated the first 10-11 overs, but we couldn't.”

THE SCORES

First ODI, Durban, January 12, 2011. South Africa won by 135 runs.

South Africa: G. Smith c Rohit b Nehra 11; H. Amla c Harbhajan b Munaf 50; C. Ingram c Nehra b Munaf 5; A. B. de Villiers c Harbhajan b Rohit 76; J. P. Duminy lbw b Rohit 73; D. Miller b Raina 9; J. Botha b Harbhajan 23; W. Parnell (not out) 21; D. Steyn c Yuvraj b Zaheer 7; M. Morkel b Zaheer 0; L. Tsotsobe (not out) 1; Extras (b-1, lb-8, w-4) 13. Total (for nine wkts., in 50 overs) 289.

Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-72, 3-82, 4-213, 5-226, 6-244, 7-266, 8-285, 9-286.

India bowling: Zaheer 10-0-44-2; Nehra 6-0-61-1; Munaf 7-1-36-2; Harbhajan 10-0-56-1; Yuvraj 6-0-32-0; Rohit 7-0-30-2; Raina 4-0-21-1.

India: M. Vijay lbw b Steyn 1; S. Tendulkar c Steyn b Tsotsobe 7; V. Kohli c Smith b Steyn 54; Rohit Sharma c de Villiers b Morkel 11; Yuvraj Singh c Smith b Morkel 2; M. Dhoni (run out) 25; S. Raina c Ingram b Tsotsobe 32; Harbhajan Singh b Parnell 0; Zaheer Khan c Duminy b Tsotsobe 6; A. Nehra b Tsotsobe 1; Munaf Patel (not out) 1; Extras (b-4, w-10) 14. Total (in 35.4 overs) 154.

Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-13, 3-41, 4-43, 5-95, 6-128, 7-129, 8-148, 9-153.

South Africa bowling: Steyn 6-0-29-2; Tsotsobe 8.4-0-31-4; Morkel 5-0-12-2; Parnell 7-0-25-1; Botha 7-0-46-0; Duminy 2-0-7-0.