Africa XI fall short again


The Asia XI has taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ODI series against the Africa XI with a victory in the 2nd ODI, a match almost eerily similar to the 1st. Once again Asia batted first and posted a total in excess of 300, once again Africa suffered the loss of an early wicket before a middle-order fightback, and once again they fell short of the target.

Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and elected to bat, and would have been fairly pleased with his decision as Sanath Jayasuriya and Virender Sehwag blasted 37 runs from the first five overs before Jayasuriya fell for 11. But Sehwag was unfazed, continuing on his merry way in blasting 52 from just 38 balls while his India team-mate Saurav Ganguly kept him company. When Sehwag fell to the bowling of Elton Chigumbura, the score was 77-2 after just eleven overs.

It looked as though the run rate would drop at some stage, but it never really did. While Ganguly anchored the innings with an exceptional 112-ball 88, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Jayawardene, Mohammad Yousuf and Yuvraj Singh all chimed in with more than useful cameos at the other end to keep the run rate above six runs per over throughout the innings. Dhoni contributed 33 from 38 balls, Jayawardene 45 from 40, Yousuf 51 from 44 and Yuvraj a spectacular 30 from 13 in the final stages of the innings to boost the Asia XI’s score to a rather healthy 337-7.

As opposed to and because of the strength of Asia’s batting scorecard, the African bowling figures are an ugly sight. However, Morne Morkel was the exception with the comparatively brilliant figures of 2-48 from 10, an excellent return considering the number of runs scored.

AB de Villiers was an early casualty as Africa tried to get off to a strong start in what was a daunting chase, falling to the bowling of Mohammad Asif for 13. Vusi Sibanda and Boeta Dippenaar got the chase back on track with a 60-run stand for the second wicket, but Dilhara Fernando put a close to the rising confidence of the Africans with the wickets of Sibanda for 35 and captain Justin Kemp for 0 within the space of three deliveries.

Another promising partnership followed between Dippenaar and Mark Boucher, but as was the story of the day for the Africa XI it was broken before it became anything truly meaningful as Dippenaar was dismissed for 67. 1st ODI centurion Shaun Pollock came out to join Boucher and looked in good touch, but when both Boucher (73) and Pollock (35) were out caught by Mohammad Asif the realistic hopes of Africa levelling the series were put to rest, with the Africa lower order battling on bravely to guide the side past the 300 mark without threatening the total, and eventually the last wicket was claimed in the 50th over, Morne Morkel being the victim after an entertaining 25.

In the first match Asia scored 317 and Africa replied with 283, falling 34 runs short. They improved on that slightly this time, with Asia again scoring over 300 and Africa falling 31 short. Will the third and final match see more of the same? We’ll find out tomorrow.

Asia XI 337-7
Saurav Ganguly 88, Virender Sehwag 52
Morne Morkel 2-48, Elton Chigumbura 2-84

Africa XI 306 all out
Mark Boucher 73, Boeta Dippenaar 67
Dilhara Fernando 4-38, Mohammad Rafique 2-62

Asia XI won by 34 runs.

Cricket Web Player of the Match – Saurav Ganguly (88).

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