Scoring a point over the South African quicks

Published : Nov 03, 2001 00:00 IST


IT turned out to be another comfortable win for Shaun Pollock's South African team. It made 282 for four in 50 overs on a good batting pitch and bowled out the Indians for 236. India's hopes had soared after the opening pair, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, put on 101, their second century plus stand in the Standard Bank tri-series. But after their departure the Indian innings lost momentum and finally fizzled out, with Rahul Dravid remaining undefeated on 71. The match might have become close, but the moment Jacques Kallis took a fine catch at long on to dismiss Ganguly, everyone knew that it would be South Africa's game.

"We all know that they (Indians) bat well up front and that the middle order is a little inexperienced. That's why we always put pressure up front. Our fielding in the last couple of games was average. We try to set high standards for ourselves. It was a lot better today. The three run outs happened because of good fielding on our part. We started getting wickets from the 15th over. Then the game was ours," said Pollock.

The South Africans, beaten by 41 runs at The Centurion, were keen to take revenge. Pollock helped the team's cause by winning the toss and electing to bat. His team had won a high scoring match at The Wanderers, and Pollock realised that the best way to win a match on featherbeds was to put up a big total and apply pressure on the team batting second.

South Africa made 282 for four in its 50 overs, thanks to contributions from all the specialist batsmen. Boeta Dippenaar made 81, Herschelle Gibbs 47, Jacques Kallis 49, Jonty Rhodes 40 not out and Lance Klusener 38 not out. The spinners, especially Harbhajan Singh, bowled tight spells without taking a wicket, but Rhodes and Klusener put on 50 plus runs in the last five overs.

It was Gibbs, who gave a typically aggressive start, showing a wonderful eye in picking the line and length of Javagal Srinath and Ajit Agarkar, both of whom were rested in the previous match against Kenya. "Gibbs' was a class effort, but we have to avoid bowling too many bad balls," said the Indian coach John Wright.

Gibbs, employing flashy as well as orthodox strokes, raced to 47 off just 41 balls with seven fours and a six before hitting Agarkar straight to Virender Sehwag at midwicket.

After Gibbs' exit, Dippenaar, more in the Andrew Hudson mould, was watchful and worked the ball away for singles. He had made 74 against the Kenyans in the previous match. Dippenaar had decided that he should make the most of the opportunities that come his way. Even as it appeared that he would make his first century in one-day internationals, Srinath won an appeal for leg before against him. Dippenaar (81, 148m, 109b, 5x4) was palpably in front of the wicket.

Dippenaar was left off the first ball of the 40th over, the score being 203. The Indians appeared to be in control, but Rhodes and Klusener changed the complexion of the game with a hard-hitting stand that produced 79 runs off the last 65 balls. This was done without Klusener hitting a six. He and Rhodes found the gaps and ran hard, converting singles into twos. The last five overs saw Rhodes (40 not out, 38b, 3x4) and Klusener (38, 32b, 4x4) take South Africa from a reasonable 230 for four to a very impressive 282.

Ganguly, who has taken upon himself the role of attacking the South African fast bowlers, was successful again. It's become a habit for Tendulkar to play the supporting role these days. Tendulkar played a few forceful shots on the off side, but it was the Indian captain who sustained the tempo, picking Pollock for special treatment.

The century plus stand came in a little over 15 overs when Kallis - who subsequently held a fine catch to send back Ganguly - provided the breakthrough, getting rid of Tendulkar. "I think they (Ganguly and Tendulkar) played shots off good deliveries. We did not bowl long hops or half volleys. If we had, we would have been worried," said Pollock.

India lost the wicket of Shiv Sundar Das, immediately after Tendulkar was bowled by Kallis. Ganguly said it was sheer bad luck that resulted in the run out of Das. The third wicket pair - Ganguly and Dravid - had made some headway when Kallis brought off a spectacular catch that terminated the rousing knock of the Indian skipper, who had straight driven Pollock for two sixes and also struck a six each off Andre Nel and Makhaya Ntini.

Though Dravid (71 not out, 87b, 7x4) picked up his scoring rate after a slow start, the Indian innings lost its way and ended at 236 with 32 balls remaining. The middle order batsmen Yuveraj Singh and Virendra Sehwag made seven runs between them. The batsmen who followed showed poor judgment and became run out victims. Ganguly blamed Agarkar and Deep Dasgupta, for responding poorly to their partner's call.

"Well, we are playing international cricket. No coach in the world can teach you how to run. It's a question of following the basics which has been stressed again and again. Agarkar was looking at the ball and not his partner. In Deep's case there was an easy run. They got out because of basic faults, not out of panic," said Ganguly.

The Indian coach, Wright, did not criticise the youngsters in the team." Both Yuveraj and Sehwag are talented players. They are a little short on experience. Both the batsmen are special, they can decimate a bowler in a single over. Das is a class and busy player. But we have to find someone who will put his hand up and say, "It's my day today," when Tendulkar or Ganguly fail, said Wright.

The scores:

South Africa: B. Dippenaar lbw b Srinath 81; H. Gibbs c Sehwag b Agarkar 47; N. Boje (run out) 18; J. Kallis c Ganguly b Srinath 49; J. Rhodes (not out) 40; L. Klusener (not out) 38; Extras (lb-4, nb-4, w-1) 9. Total (for four wickets in 50 overs) 282.

Fall of wickets: 1-63, 2-93, 3-196, 4-203.

India bowling: Srinath 10-0-55-2, Agarkar 8-0-64-1, Harbhajan 10-0-39-0, Kumble 10-0-54-0, Sehwag 5-0-37-0, Yuveraj 7-0-29-0.

India: S. Ganguly c Kallis b Boje 85; S. Tendulkar b Kallis 37; S. S. Das (run out) 2; R. Dravid (not out) 71; Yuveraj Singh lbw b Klusener 3; V. Sehwag c Boje b Klusener 4; A. Agarkar (run out) 16; D. Dasgupta (run out) 0; Harbhajan Singh c Boucher b Nel 7; A. Kumble c Pollock b Nel 0; J. Srinath c Rhodes b Nel 5; Extras (nb-3, w-3) 6. Total (in 44.4 overs) 236.

Fall of wickets: 1-101, 2-103, 3-151, 4-168, 5-178, 6-200, 7-205, 8-220, 9-220.

South Africa bowling: Pollock 8-1-38-0, Nel 7.4-0-45-3, Ntini 8-0-39-0, Kallis 8-0-44-1, Klusener 8-0-44-2, Boje 5-0-26-1.

SOURAV GANGULY has turned out to be a big hit in South Africa. He came here with the reputation of being able to hit sixes and has not failed the spectators who have been brought up in the Super Sport Series culture of one-day cricket wherein big scores are the order of the day.

The Indian captain was at his very best in the third and final league match against South Africa, though he did not convert his knock into a three-figure one, at Buffalo Park, East London. Ganguly made 85 from 95 balls with four 6s and six 4s, while pushing for an Indian win that ultimately did not materialise. Yet, for the way he batted against the South African fast bowlers, he was chosen the Man of the Match and received a cash prize of 5000 rands.

Evidently, Ganguly wants to make a fine impression among the passionate followers of the game in South Africa. More than a year ago, he did well in the Carlton & United Series in Australia and he even scored a century there. Batsmen like Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid who are regarded as world class make that extra effort to perform well in alien conditions and against great bowlers who have thrived on those pitches.

In this tri-series Ganguly has been having an enthralling battle with his South African counterpart, Shaun Pollock. And after three league matches, it can be said he has managed to outwit Pollock. Pollock hit back once, before things went out of hand at the Super Sport Park, Centurion. But then again, it can be said, Ganguly did not get the benefit of doubt from the umpire after Jacques Kallis claimed a catch at second slip.

Ganguly's innings at the Buffalo Park, East London, was something special. He again picked Pollock for special treatment, smashing him for two straight sixes. It must have been an unbelievable sight for the South African supporters. In the first match of the tri-series at The Wanderers he picked on Makhaya Ntini; at the Centurion it was Pollock; in East London, it was Pollock again, though he also took heavy toll of Andre Nel and Ntini.

The Indian captain has been in good nick and has called the shots against South Africa's top bowlers in the Summer Spice Series.

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