SK Flashback, 2011 World Cup: India squander riches handed down by top-order against South Africa
India seemed a team in a hurry. Repeatedly they slipped from positions of superiority. Suddenly, they looked vulnerable, and doubts crept into the minds of the supporters. Here was a big test in their quest for a title win on home turf. Virender Sehwag kick-started the innings in typically explosive style, banging the first ball from Dale Steyn above mid-on to the boundary. He got most of the early strike and did much of the scoring. Sachin Tendulkar was content to let the irrepressible marauder assume charge. Sehwag had already smashed 8 fours in 34 deliveries, including three in an over from Morne Morkel, when the little master brought up his first boundary off his 9th ball. By then, the pair had raised the 50 off 6.4 overs.
Tendulkar shifted gears. Again three boundaries came off a Morkel over, two of which bore the Tendulkar class and authority, front-foot drives through the covers and straight. With India already 77 in 9 overs, Steyn returned for another burst. He dug the third ball short and Tendulkar hooked for six. The Powerplay yielded 87 runs, highest of the tournament.
Riding on some luck, Sehwag raced to 50 in 44 deliveries, India brought up the 100 in 11.4 overs, quickest of the tournament. Tendulkar sped to his own 50 off 33 balls. Promptly he hit Jean-Paul Duminy for a six over long-on. Sehwag played-on to his stumps, with the duo having put up 142 in 17.4 overs. Sehwag’s 73 came off 66 balls, peppered with a dozen boundaries. Gautam Gambhir picked up the thread. As the scoring-rate began to dip, Tendulkar slammed Robin Peterson for another six. Tendulkar notched his 99th international century off 92 deliveries to a thunderous ovation. He departed trying to accelerate the run-rate, having hit up 111, embellished with 8 fours and 3 sixes in the 101 balls that he faced. India were 267 for two in 39.4 over, a terrific launch pad for the assault in the final 10 overs.
Quite to the contrary, the great man’s dismissal shifted the momentum. Even on this flat wicket, Dale Steyn showed why he is the best fast bowler in the world. A slower ball accounted for Gambhir (69 off 75 balls with 7 fours), and two deliveries later Yusuf Pathan holed out. Yuvraj Singh tried to counter-attack, lofting Johan Botha for a straight six, but soon hit one into the hands of long-off. It was then Virat Kohli’s turn to lob back a catch. Suddenly India were 286 for six in 44 overs. Steyn knocked over the tail in no time, scalping five for 50 in 9.4 overs. India were bowled out for 296 with 8 deliveries remaining.
South Africa were steady as Jacques Kallis (69 off 88 balls) conjured up an 86-run second-wicket partnership with Hashim Amla (61 off 72 balls) in 18.5 overs, and 46 runs with AB de Villiers for the third-wicket in 8.2 overs. De Villiers seized the initiative, adding another 50 with Duminy in 4.5 overs.
Having swung Harbhajan Singh over mid-wicket for a six, Duminy and him crashed 17 runs off the 40th over bowled by Zaheer Khan. De Villiers departed for 52 off 39 balls with 6 fours and a six. With 31 runs required from the last 3 overs, Botha hammered Munaf Patel for a four and a six before losing his wicket. Zaheer conceded just 4 runs in the penultimate over. There were 13 needed off the last. Peterson inside-edged Ashish Nehra to the fine-leg fence, crashed the next for a six, scrambled two off the third, and put the final seal with a wallop through the covers.
Stunned skipper Mahendra Dhoni rued, “In the batting Powerplay, it is important that you do not play for the crowd, but for your country. We should have curbed our instincts and looked to play out the 50 overs.”
India 296 all out (48.4 overs), South Africa 300 for 7 wickets (49.4 overs) (CWC 2011)