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Cricket World Cup: S Africa stun India in thriller

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 Group B, Nagpur:
South Africa 300-7 (49.4 overs) beat India 296 (48.4 overs) by three wickets

Match scorecard

South Africa celebrate beating India

South Africa chase down India total

By Sam Sheringham

South Africa executed a brilliant run chase to beat India in the final over of their group match and move to the brink of the World Cup quarter-finals.

In a dramatic finale, tail-ender Robin Peterson struck 18 off seven balls to see the Proteas to a target of 297 with two balls to spare in Nagpur.

India looked set for a total over 350 when Sachin Tendulkar's 99th century in internationals steered them to 267-1.

But Dale Steyn took five wickets in 16 balls as they slumped to 296 all out.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith said: "For 15 overs up front we took an absolute beating.

"But for 75 we played some incredible cricket. Chasing 300 in the second innings was a hell of an effort from the guys and I think we're all pretty speechless.

"Winning and losing in the last two games, there's been some massive lessons for a lot of our guys. But the confidence that you get out of a win like this is huge."

South Africa's victory pushed England into fourth place in Group B, increasing the pressure on Andrew Strauss's men ahead of next Thursday's decisive showdown with the West Indies in Chennai.

The batsman played well, and if you are not bowling in the right spot more often than not you get hit

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Bizarrely, England could lose that match and still go through - as long as Bangladesh lose both their remaining games and Ireland do not win both of theirs.

For India, the defeat will prompt plenty of soul-searching over how they managed to lose their last nine wickets for 29 runs after Tendulkar's century and fifties from Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had given them such a formidable platform.

Captain Mahendra Dhoni may also come in for criticism over his decision to give seamer Ashish Nehra the final over ahead of spinner Harbhajan Singh, with South Africa still needing 13 to win.

The tactic backfired as Peterson smacked a four and a six off the first two balls, before sealing the victory two balls later with a four through the covers.

"I thought it would be better to use the seamer," said Dhoni. "Maybe I was wrong, but I thought that was the better option.

"We just needed the bowlers to bowl in the right spot, but they were under tremendous pressure.

"The batsman played well, and if you're not bowling in the right spot more often than not you get hit."

For the fifth match in succession, Sehwag creamed the first ball of India's innings for four to light the fuse for an electric opening partnership with Tendulkar.

The veteran duo smashed 87 runs from the mandatory 10-over powerplay - the highest total of the tournament so far - as they overtook England's Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott as the competition's highest run-scorers.

One of the joys of watching Sehwag and Tendulkar is the contrasting manner in which they accumulate their runs.

Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his 99th international century
Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his 99th international century

While Sehwag employs minimal footwork and relies more on timing and power, the more technically-gifted Tendulkar mixes up ones and twos with immaculately placed boundaries and the occasional full-blooded blast over the ropes.

Sehwag's innings was not without good fortune: in the second over, an edge off Morne Morkel flew between a motionless wicketkeeper Morne Van Wyk and first slip.

And shortly afterwards, Smith decided not to review an lbw appeal from Steyn, only for replays to reveal the ball would have struck middle and leg stumps.

However, Sehwag's luck ran out on 73 when he chopped a delivery from spinner Francois du Plessis onto his stumps.

The wicket did little to disrupt India's momentum as Tendulkar and Gambhir continued to accumulate runs rapidly in a second-wicket partnership of 125.

With a total in excess of 400 on the cards, India took the batting powerplay in the 39th over but - as it has so often in this tournament - the decision sparked a flurry of wickets.

The Little Master's latest exhibition was finally ended when he cut across a ball from JP Duminy and sliced the ball into the hands of a grateful Morkel.

Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan and Yuvraj Singh were all caught trying to play big shots, while both Virat Kohli and Zaheer Khan fell to left-arm spinner Peterson.

With Dhoni looking increasingly exasperated by his team-mates' efforts as he watched on from the non-striker's end, Steyn ruthlessly ran through the tail to wrap up the innings in the penultimate over.

While India began in explosive fashion before fading dramatically, South Africa made a steady start and accelerated in the latter part of their innings, with AB de Villiers' 52 off 39 balls a crucial factor.

Smith looked a little out of sorts as he laboured to 16 off 28 balls and it was no surprise when an attempted drive off Zaheer Khan was spooned straight to Tendulkar at mid-off.

Jacques Kallis
Jacques Kallis struck 69 from 88 balls to push South Africa towards their target

Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis manoeuvred the ball around the ground in a partnership of 86 which featured only two boundaries.

Amla was dismissed for 60 when he edged Harbhajan through to Dhoni and Kallis was run out for 69 after attempting a risky second run.

Despite requiring a runner because of injury, De Villiers kept South Africa in the hunt, stepping up the pace during the batting powerplay and helping his side smash 17 runs from one Zaheer over.

But a superb innings was brought to an end when he pulled Harbhajan down the throat of Virat Kohli at deep square leg.

At that point South Africa still needed 74 from 9.3 overs, but Duminy (23), Johan Botha (23) and Du Plessis (25 not out) kept up the momentum.

With 31 needed from three overs, Botha struck a four and a six off Munaf Patel to put South Africa in command, but again the pendulum swung back India's way as a brilliant penultimate over from Zaheer yielded only four runs.

An inside edge gave Peterson four from the first ball of the last over, before a huge six over cow corner all but sealed it.

Two runs down to fine leg levelled the scores and a crisp cover drive sparked jubilation in the South Africa camp.



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see also
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India v South Africa as it happened
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England stun S Africa in thriller
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South Africa thrash Netherlands
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De Villiers inspires S Africa win
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Yuvraj seals India win over Dutch
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Ireland make India toil for win
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England & India in thrilling tie
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Superb Sehwag inspires India win
19 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011
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Live cricket on the BBC
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