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May 2, 2010: Raina’s century helps India beat South Africa
India’s surge in the final stretch of its innings — the side blasted 75 runs in the last five overs — eventually proved the decisive phase of this much-awaited duel against South Africa at the Beausejour Stadium on Sunday.
With its total soaring to 186 for five, India held all the aces when South Africa pursued on a sluggish surface.
South Africa, choked initially by the spinners and falling behind in run-rate, left too much for its lower order batsmen to accomplish. The side, despite a few late big hits, fell short by 14 runs.
India enters the Super Eight with an all-win record in Group ‘C.’
At the heart of the Indian victory before a colourful and enthusiastic crowd was Suresh Raina. His 60-ball 101 was a stunning effort. Not surprisingly, the lefthander was adjudged Man-of-the-Match.
Raina held centrestage. The ease with which Raina picks the length is the hallmark of his batsmanship. The talented southpaw gets into a position quickly and has more than one stroke as his response.
India, 67 for two after the first 10 overs, changed gears in the second half of the innings. In fact, Raina’s final 82 runs consumed only 38 balls as the southpaw cut loose.
The manner in which he created room – Raina moved outside his leg-stump – for a thundering six over wide long on off Jacques Kallis had the crowd applauding.
Raina’s inside-out drives against left-arm spinner van der Merwe reflected a mind that was in harmony with his body. The left-hander was using the width of the crease to create room.
He harnessed the depth of the crease for strokes behind point. Raina also changed the length by jumping down the track.
Importantly, his batting was underlined by poise and balance. Raina’s effort was not about the big hits alone; he rotated the strike cleverly.
A square-drive off Dale Steyn was a peach of a stroke. Raina’s forearms are strong. He has supple wrists too. He was also watching the bowler’s hand closely. When paceman Rory Klienveldt altered his speed, he was dumped over the squareleg fence.
It was a great moment for Raina – he became the first batsman to score a Twenty20 international hundred at this venue – when he blasted a fulllength delivery from Albie Morkel over the wide midwicket fence.
There was another important contribution in the Indian innings. Yuvraj Singh (37) sizzled. A swept six off left-arm spinner van der Merwe and an audacious on-the-walk whipped six off Albie Morkel were compelling strokes.
Then, the big hitting Yusuf Pathan and Dhoni came up with some powerful blows towards the end.
Undone by Raina’s influential innings, the pressure was on South Africa when it chased. Mahendra Singh Dhoni led well by employing the spin-pace combination of Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar with the new ball.
There was hardly any pace on the ball for Jacques Kallis and Loots Bosman to work with and South Africa fell behind when the field restrictions were on. After this period, the side had a mountain to climb.
Kallis (73), reprieved very early by Yusuf Pathan at backward point off Harbhajan, batted with customary poise but was unable to force the pace initially. Kallis was put down, again, this time by ‘keeper Dhoni off left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja. Before, he managed a brace of slog-swept sixes off Harbhjan.
The other heavyweight in the line-up, Smith, eventually run out by the combination of Praveen Kumar and Dhoni, made a steady 36.
However, the biggest danger for India came in the form of a 15-ball 31 from Abraham de Villiers. But then, left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra, varying his length and speed and sending down a few telling yorkers, bowled capably at the ‘death’.
And young spinners Piyush Chawla, getting some fizz off the track, and Jadeja held their nerve. India closed out the game.
India: D. Karthik c Smith b Kallis 16 (17b, 2×4), M. Vijay c Boucher b Kleinveldt 0 (1b), S. Raina c AB de Villiers b A. Morkel 101 (60b, 9×4, 5×6), Yuvraj c Smith b Kleinveldt 37 (30b, 3×4, 2×6), Y. Pathan c van der Merwe b Steyn 11 (7b, 1×6), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 16 (6b, 1×4, 1×6), Harbhajan (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (w-4, nb-1) 5; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs) 186.
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-32, 3-120, 4-163, 5-178.
South Africa bowling: Kleinveldt 4-0-48-2, Steyn 4-0-24-1, M. Morkel 4-0-32-0, A. Morkel 3-0-39-1, Kallis 4-0-30-1, van der Merwe 1-0-13-0.
South Africa: J. Kallis c Jadeja b Chawla 73 (54b, 3×4, 3×6), L. Bosman c Chawla b Pathan 8 (14b), G. Smith (run out) 36 (28b, 1×4, 2×6), AB de Villiers c Chawla b Nehra 31 (15b 1×4, 3×6), A. Morkel c Harbhajan b Pathan 12 (7b, 1×6), M. Boucher (not out) 4 (2b), JP Duminy (not out) 4 (1b, 1×4); Extras: (b-1, lb-2, nb-1): 4; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 172.
Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-118, 3- 128, 4-152, 5-167.
India bowling: Harbhajan 4-0- 33-0, Praveen 1-0-3-0, Nehra 4-0- 27-1, Pathan 4-0-42-2, Chawla 3-0- 27-1, Jadeja 4-0-37-0.
(This article was first published in The Hindu on May 2, 2010)