India v South Africa, 1st Test, Nagpur, 4th day February 9, 2010

Harris and Steyn consign India to innings defeat

South Africa 558 for 6 dec (Amla 253*, Kallis 173, de Villiers 53) beat India 233 (Sehwag 109, Badrinath 56, Steyn 7-51) and (f/o) 319 (Tendulkar 100, Steyn 3-57, Harris 3-76) by an innings and six runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Paul Harris is a character straight out of a Vegas gambling film. He says "perception is often reality" and batsmen perceive him to be an innocuous bowler, and that's where he says he gets his wickets. He played around with his own perception to become the most successful spinner in the match, his "innocuous" outside-the-leg line from over the stumps getting him the wickets of Sachin Tendulkar and M Vijay, the only men who looked like they could deny South Africa. Thanks to Harris, the fast bowlers didn't need to bust their gut in consigning India to their third innings defeat at home in the last 10 years - all three to the same opposition.

Tendulkar's 91st international century, just like Virender Sehwag's 30th in the first innings, was a remarkable innings in isolation but inadequate given the thin middle order. Once he got out with India still 133 behind, it was always going to be a matter of when, not if. The when came at 4.27pm, with Dale Steyn completing his fourth career ten-wicket haul, taking out a resolute Wriddhiman Saha and Amit Mishra in quick succession.

On a day that Graeme Smith went easy on his pace bowlers, Harris provided his captain with just what was required: control over the run flow, a lion's share of the overs bowled and the big wickets. He came on to bowl as early as the fifth over of the day, and was the main bowler until tea, sending down 31 overs for 64 runs and three wickets, the third being MS Dhoni's.

Given how Dhoni got out to Harris in the first innings, padding up and gloving one that kicked from the rough, the leg-line wasn't quite as defensive as it is perceived to be. Neither of the overnight batsmen, Tendulkar and Vijay, wanted to keep padding up to him for long. Tendulkar was more convincing in getting right to the pitch of the ball, and playing it out of the rough. The flick for four through midwicket early in the day stood out. Vijay kept Harris interested with the sweep, and finally one delivery found the top edge and then Morne Morkel at fine leg.

Tendulkar had moved to 37 by then, having found balance between attack and defence. Against Harris he kicked away the deliveries outside leg, as opposed to waiting for them to hit his pads. When he made up his mind to play scoring shots, he made sure he was close to the pitch of the ball. From the other end, Smith rotated his fast bowlers, who gave Tendulkar nothing to drive.

Tendulkar was up to the task, scoring through deft touches and glances against aggressive bowling. He hit ten boundaries in his 68 runs behind square alone. The innings did feature a drop when on 45. Wayne Parnell, bowling from round the stumps, got it to straighten and hit the edge, but Jaques Kallis missed a tough one low to his right.

That was the only blotch on an innings that progressed at a fair pace. It didn't quite become a threatening knock because no one at the other end looked nearly as convincing once Vijay got out. S Badrinath kept middling the ball, kept finding fielders, and got off the mark off the 17th ball he faced. Against Parnell, he could survive just three balls. The first one beat a defensive shot, and was angling down when it hit his pad. The second one straightened, took the edge, fell short, and went for four. The third carried.

Along with Dhoni, Tendulkar negotiated 25.5 overs but neither man made an attempt to hit Harris off his line. Vijay's wicket could have had that effect. Eventually one bounced slightly more than expected, hit Tendulkar on the pad, then onto the elbow, and onto the stumps.

Dhoni, too, 25 off 112, eventually got the one accurate delivery from Harris that made him play, took the inside edge onto the pad, and his first defeat as captain would come soon. The unfortunate Saha, who unwittingly drew the ire of many by debuting as a specialist batsman, put in a fight with a 101-ball 36. Stands of 50 and 59 with Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan took them close to saving the innings defeat, but Kallis and Steyn took the last three wickets in one quick go. The messed-up stumps of Mishra at the hands of Steyn, bringing up the 10-for, was a fitting end.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • vaibhav on February 11, 2010, 8:35 GMT

    @ravichakra dood better check your records, Tendulkar has played match winning/saving innings more than any other batsmen. It will be impossible to pen down all those here spanning a 20 yr long career but to mention the most popular ones.... 175 vs Aus (odi) 117* vs Aus (odi) 143 vs Aus (odi) 98 vs Pak (odi) 138 vs SL (odi) 93 vs Sa (odi) 241 vs Aus (test) 169 vs Sa (test) 155 vs Sa (test) 114 vs Aus (test) as I said I can go on writing atleast a dozen more. Tendulkar has performed even when the entire team fails including his latest innings. You are probably proud of Laxman's and Dravid's double centuries and the triples from Sehwag, so am I, so is the entire fraternity. But those were not single-handed wins. They were very well supported by the bowlers and other batsmen. for eg Kolkata test: Laxman scored 280 but he was aided by Dravid 180, Harbhajan 6 wickets, Tendulkar 3 wickets. But ofcourse you will find some or the other way to criticise the Master.

  • sridhar on February 11, 2010, 7:11 GMT

    @Mr. ravichakra, At some times in the past I was also thinking like you, for you my friend, think about match he won for us against engalnd in chennai, match saving innings against australia in bangalore, about sehwag, he can change the state of match, 2nd innings 60+ in chennai test match against engalnd, and only one such match saving innings(upto my knowledge) in adelaide 150+ can be compared with the others that too I remember he was dropped in the slip when he was on 2. Sehwag a good entertainer(two 300+), Sachin, Dravid and Laxman are very much technical. He should not be compared with them in test matches. it is not only scoring runs and also how many deliveries you are playing in the wicket, I think the later is not seen in much of Sehwag. On the last match we can take even examples from dhoni's, Badri's and Saha's innings for how we should play in this situation. I accept all 46 aren't contributed in crucial time, but sachin's contribution is much better then Sehwag's.

  • Rana on February 11, 2010, 2:15 GMT

    Skywalker are you for real? Correct me if I am wrong didn't SA ask for a green top in the final test against Eng in a desperate attempt to level the series. Did that not paramount to "doctoring" and "cheating". Why is it that when Aust, Eng and SA ask for green seaming pitches for their advantages against the subcontinent teams, its considered fair but if a subcontinent team asks for a turning track, all of a sudden its considered cheating? Thanks for proving my point.

  • Parthasarathy on February 10, 2010, 17:36 GMT

    I would like to bring out certain points to the notice of Sidharth - Firstly, Sidharth mentioned only Sachin and Vijay looked like the men who could deny South Africa. Secondly, Sidharth mentioned that once Sachin got out, it was always going to be a matter of when not if. Sachin's presence would have not changed the result one bit. There are only 3 men capable of denying a team a victory even when they are at the doorstep of victory - Sehwag, Dravid or Laxman. Two were missing and Sehwag got out early in the 2nd innings. The match was sealed then itself. Sachin has never played an innings to date (270 till date) which I can remember was a match saving or match winning innings when the team is tottering. He cannot play under pressure for nuts. He used this situation one more time to fool the Indian public about how great he was by scoring his 46th century knowing fully well that he does not have it in him to carry on like Dravid, Laxman or Sehwag.They have done it more than once

  • Rohit on February 10, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    Quite expectedly, the BCCI has asked for a turner at Kolkata. Nagpur was a pure batting track where Indians were outplayed by the craft and skill of Dale Steyn. Now doctoring a pitch(at Eden) to win tantamounts to cheating. Hope better sense prevails and we see a sporting track at Kolkata where both teams have an equal chance.

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