Pathan sizzles

After dismissing South Africa for 220, India achieved the target in the 49th over with two wickets in hand. Yusuf Pathan swung the game with his 50-ball 59 — he lifted India from 93 for five to 182 for seven. S. Ram Mahesh reports.

India and South Africa produced another excruciatingly tense contest in the third ODI, and much like the second ODI at the Wanderers, it was India which prevailed in a close encounter, at Newlands.

After dismissing South Africa for 220, India achieved the target in the 49th over with two wickets in hand. Yusuf Pathan swung the game with his 50-ball 59 — he lifted India from 93 for five to 182 for seven. His partnership of 75 runs in 12.1 overs with Suresh Raina for the sixth wicket was instrumental.

But there was plenty to do after Yusuf's departure, and Harbhajan Singh (23 not out) saw the team home with help from Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, enabling India take a 2-1 lead.

India was rocked early in its chase. M. Vijay couldn't control his response to a delivery that stopped on him. Dale Steyn managed to change direction in his follow-through and hurl himself to the right to snag the catch one-handed.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli then put on 52 before both were claimed by Morne Morkel, who was in the midst of a high-class spell of fast-bowling. Rohit played one classy on-drive off Steyn, but Kohli was the more impressive of the two.

Kohli was troubled by Morkel's pace, length, and lift, however, and it was no surprise that he nicked one to the 'keeper. Rohit was then beaten by length. The ball mightn't have risen as expected, but it hardly kept as low as his theatrical crouch suggested. At 61 for three, much depended on Yuvraj Singh and M. S. Dhoni. But neither could manage what he is capable of. It was Yusuf's night, and his three sixes off Johan Botha rattled South Africa. In between, Raina hit Wayne Parnell for consecutive fours, forcing the left-armer out of the attack again.

India made comfortable progress, advancing the match to a stage where South Africa needed a wicket to stay in the contest. With India on 166 for five in 36 overs, Smith threw the ball to his best bowler of the game, Morkel.

The big man didn't disappoint his captain, having Raina caught behind. Morkel also played a part in Yusuf's dismissal, pulling off a spectacular catch at third-man after first misjudging the upper-cut off Steyn.

Harbhajan and Zaheer added to the drama, playing and missing — both were also dropped. Somehow they managed to get within striking distance, and took the Batting Power Play. Harbhajan clouted Parnell over long-off to take India from 196 to 202 for eight. Zaheer managed an inside edge off Tsotsobe which reduced the runs needed to 13.

But Zaheer hit Tsotsobe to mid-off, as the contest twisted again. The 47th over, bowled by Morkel, was a make-or-break passage of play for both teams. Harbhajan flat-batted the fast-man for six — a quite incredible stroke. It was then left to Nehra to hit the winning runs.

A partnership of 110 runs for the fifth wicket between J. P. Duminy (52) and debutant Francois du Plessis (60) had stymied India after the touring side, asked to bowl, had done well to reduce South Africa to 90 for four. India came back well to hurt South Africa in its Batting Power Play. Harbhajan (two for 23) was the pick of India's bowlers, marginally ahead of Zaheer (three for 43). Munaf (two for 42) was very good as well. Kohli and Zaheer also took astonishing catches in South Africa's innings.

THE SCORES

Third ODI, Cape Town, January 18, 2011. India won by two wickets.

South Africa: G. Smith c Kohli b Harbhajan 43; H. Amla b Zaheer 16; C. Ingram c Kohli b Harbhajan 10; A. B. de Villiers c Zaheer b Pathan 16; J. P. Duminy b Zaheer 52; F. du Plessis c Kohli b Munaf 60; J. Botha b Zaheer 9; W. Parnell (run out) 5; D. Steyn c Raina b Munaf 5; M. Morkel (not out) 0; L. Tsotsobe (run out) 0; Extras (w-4) 4. Total (in 49.2 overs) 220.

Fall of wickets: 1-31, 2-49, 3-83, 4-90, 5-200, 6-202, 7-207, 8-216, 9-219.

India bowling: Zaheer 9.2-0-43-3; Munaf 10-1-42-2; Nehra 7-0-42-0; Harbhajan 9-1-23-2; Pathan 6-0-27-1; Yuvraj 6-0-30-0; Rohit 1-0-5-0; Raina 1-0-8-0.

India: Rohit Sharma b Morkel 23; M. Vijay c & b Steyn 1; V. Kohli c de Villiers b Morkel 28; Yuvraj Singh lbw b Duminy 16; M. Dhoni c de Villiers b Botha 5; S. Raina c de Villiers b Morkel 37; Y. Pathan c Morkel b Steyn 59; Harbhajan Singh (not out) 23; Zaheer Khan c Smith b Tsotsobe 14; A. Nehra (not out) 6; Extras (lb-5, w-6) 11. Total (for eight wkts., in 48.2 overs) 223.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-56, 3-61, 4-69, 5-93, 6-168, 7-182, 8-208.

South Africa bowling: Steyn 10-1-31-2; Tsotsobe 10-0-41-1; Parnell 8-0-53-0; Morkel 10-0-28-3; Botha 7.2-1-48-1; Duminy 2-0-9-1; Du Plessis 1-0-8-0.