India edge SA in thriller

The Proteas lost the first ODI at Jaipur by 1 run despite a sensational rearguard from Dale Steyn.

India were looking comfortable winners until the Proteas’ fast bowler took the long handle to their attack, smashing 35 runs off just 19 deliveries. He fell in the last over, but the Proteas, lead by a brave Wayne Parnell, still managed to require three runs from the last delivery.

Parnell edged the ball to third man, which eliminated a victory, but also failed to make the second run that would have drawn the match. There’ll be an inquisition into a dubious decision not to award the Proteas four runs after reviewing video evidence Sachin Tendulkar sliding desperately to save a boundary. The evidence was inconclusive, and three runs stood. That would be decisive in the final analysis.

However, despite the heroics from Steyn, and Parnell defying expectations with his 49, the frontline batsman, barring Jacques Kallis who scored 89, need some serious introspection. If one of them had applied themselves on an excellent wicket for batting their team may not be going to Gwalior on Wednesday under severe pressure to win to keep the series alive.

India’s total of 298 was competitive, but they would have felt they were at least 50 runs short. The fact that the majority of their batsman failed to convert starts and the resultant inability to build meaningful partnerships was the primary reasons for this.

The same must be said of the Proteas’ batsman, and their application is something that must be addressed if they hope to avoid defeat in the second ODI.

They struck a decisive blow early in their bowling turn when Sachin Tendulkar was run out, but Virender Sehwag and Dinesh Karthick put on 79 for the second wicket and looked completely dominant until a stroke of luck got the Proteas back into the match. Karthick drove powerfully down the wicket but Charl Langeveldt palmed the ball onto the non-striker’s stumps and caught Sehwag out of his ground.

Karthick, MS Dhoni and Virat Kholi looked in formidable form but succumbed as they were hitting top gear, leaving Suresh Raina to drive them towards a defendable total. He did so well, combining with the middle and lower order before being dismissed for 58.

It didn’t take a cricket expert to predict what you were going to get from the opening pair of Herschelle Gibbs and Loots Bosman, and the duo blended the orthodox explosive with the cavalier in a 58-run partnership. Then Bosman lost patience and was bowled trying to heave the ball over extra cover. Gibbs had a brain explosion shortly thereafter, charging down the wicket and succeeding only in holing out to long off.

Kallis and AB de Villiers set about consolidating and shared a 45-run stand, but poor shot selection again cost the Proteas – this time De Villiers deceived by an arm ball. Alviro Petersen’s hot streak ended when he was dismissed for 9 and their hopes of chasing down the target were further dented when the explosive Albie Morkel and Mark Boucher fell in quick succession.

The capable Johan Botha needed to stick around with his skipper for the Proteas to have a realistic chance of victory, but he was back in the shed after being trapped lbw trying to sweep.

That left Parnell with the unenviable task of assisting Kallis in launching an assault on the remaining 108 runs needed off the last 13 overs. The pair were determined in their chase, but never hit nearly enough boundaries to be cause panic in the India ranks, and when Kallis went, hacking hopefully, so, seemingly, did a chance of victory.

Step up Steyn, who flayed the India bowlers to all corners of the ground, but sadly his efforts couldn’t be rewarded with victory.

India 298 (50 overs)
Suresh Raina 58, Dinesh Karthick 44, Jacques Kallis 3-29
South Africa 297 (50 overs)
Jacques Kallis 89, Wayne Parnell 49

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India win by 1 run