Saturday, January 22, 2011

Proteas set up Centurion finale

South Africa set up a potentially thrilling climax to the one-day series against India when they levelled the contest with a rain-affected 48-run victory at St. George's Park on Friday night.
Virat Kohli hit a sublime 87 not out for India, exhibiting the best strokeplay seen all series, but his fellow batsmen struggled in the face of a target of 266 and they were 142 for six when rain brought a premature end to the match.
The result means the two sides will go to Centurion for the final one-dayer on Sunday with the series tied at two matches apiece.
Although they recorded a comfortable victory in the end thanks to a disciplined bowling performance, the Proteas will still breathe a sigh of relief after a period of madness saw them lose four wickets for 12 runs in the space of four overs.
Two of those were needless run outs, and the middle-order collapse nearly saw them throw away a solid start of 106 for one after Hashim Amla had stroked his way to 64.
However Johan Botha (44) joined JP Duminy (71 not out) to add an air of calm to the batting, and the duo put on a partnership of 70 before Botha became Yuvraj Singh's third victim of the day.
In the week that he was named in South Africa's World Cup squad, Robin Peterson showed his batting abilities with a useful 31 before sacrificing his wicket in a mix-up with Duminy, leaving Dale Steyn to keep the latter company as the Proteas finished their 50 overs on 265 for seven.
That was about 25 runs more than what most deemed to be a good score on a sluggish wicket, and only Kohli truly threatened to make the contest a close one.
Openers Rohit Sharma and Parthiv Patel were ejected by Lonwabo Tsotsobe in the opening 10 overs, while a tight bowling performance saw India crawl to 32 for two in that time.
The visitors were always behind the required run rate, and the pressure created proved too much.
Yuvraj Singh hammered one six over long-on off Johan Botha, only for the off-spinner to respond by adjusting his length to have the left-hander brilliantly caught by Graeme Smith as an attempted paddle shot looped up in the air.
Suresh Raina got himself in, but two wickets in quick succession from Peterson pinned India right back, before Morne Morkel (one for 13 from six overs) produced a beauty to have the dangerous Yusuf Pathan caught behind.
That left India flagging on 128 for six and although Kohli continued to bat as if there was nothing untoward at the other end, the rain denied him what was likely to be classy, albeit fruitless century.
After a delay of 50 minutes the players were able to emerge from the dressing rooms and resume, but the action lasted just eight deliveries before another shower had the final say on the match, with the Proteas winning by a Duckworth-Lewis adjusted margin.
The only concern as the series goes to Centurion all square is the weather, with recent flooding and a dubious forecast threatening to ruin Sunday's match.

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