SA ease to victory
03 Dec 2006
By: Matt Pitt
South Africa's whitewash of India in the ODI series was finished off today, as runs from AB de Villiers and captain Graeme Smith helped them to a nine-wicket victory at Centurion.
A half-century from Sachin Tendulkar was not enough for India to post a challenging total - they only managed a score of 200-9 in their 50 overs. Three wickets from Makhaya Ntini and two each from Justin Kemp and Shaun Pollock pegged them back at regular intervals.
India were in trouble soon after being inserted by the home side, slipping to 18-2 after Pollock claimed the early wickets of Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman. Tendulkar was then joined by Dinesh Mongia, and the two slowly built a partnership which brought their side back into the game.
They added 85 in 25.4 overs together, and although the scoring rate was less than rapid, India's total would have looked a lot less competitive without their efforts. Mahendra Dhoni did his best to speed things up with two sixes in his 44, but without Tendulkar the innings lost its ballast, as India lost regular wickets in stumbling to the 200 mark.
South Africa's reply began with a bang, Smith and de Villiers pillaging the Indian bowlers early on - Sri Sreesanth took some early punishment and was removed from the attack after only three overs. Smith managed to avoid his troubles against Zaheer Khan by simply not having to face him until he already had 20 on the board, a factor which no doubt gave him some confidence.
Smith's innings of 79 from 85 balls contained three sixes, and was a fillip for a captain who despite his side's good form, has looked troubled in recent weeks. De Villiers was scintillating at the other end, as the two put on 173 for the first wicket in what seemed like no time at all. It wasn't long before Shaun Pollock was striding to the wicket at the dismissal of Smith by Harbhajan to finish the game off with a few quick boundaries - his 16 from 10 balls led his side home.
India's performances in this series have ranged from average to woeful - their under-performing batsmen will have some soul-searching to do, while they still do not know their best bowling attack. South Africa, meanwhile, go from strength to strength.
India 200-9 (50 overs)
Sachin Tendulkar 55; Makhaya Ntini 3-32
South Africa won by 9 wickets
South Africa 201-1 (31.2 overs)
AB de Villiers 92*, Graeme Smith 79; Harbhajan Singh 1-39
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