South Africa romp to 157-run victory
South Africa rode on a controlled unbeaten 119 by Jacques Kallis and some fiery bowling from their seamers to crush India by 157 runs in the second one-day international of the five-match series at Durban. Kallis's century - his 14th in ODIs, but his first against India - lifted South Africa to a competitive 248 for 8, before their fast bowlers exposed the frailties of the Indian line-up once again, bundling them out for an embarrassing 91, their lowest ODI total in South Africa.
A target of 249 wasn't a huge one, but at the innings break Kallis was confident his team would win, and justified his curiously slow approach in the second half of his innings by saying South Africa had enough runs on the board. The events later in the evening completely justified his confidence.
The pitch was a lively one, offering bounce and some seam movement, and except for Sachin Tendulkar, who made a fluent 35, none of the other batsmen were equipped to deal with either. Shaun Pollock homed in around off like he always does, Makhaya Ntini got it to bounce significantly from just short of a length, while Andre Nel enjoyed himself the most, nailing Tendulkar, and finally finishing with 4 for 13, while Kallis completed a great day at office with incredible figures of 3 for 3 from 4.1 overs.
The slide started early, when Wasim Jaffer, making his ODI debut, lasted just three ball, chopping one back on to his stumps. Mohammad Kaif made just 8, but while he was around India added 39, with Tendulkar - who became the most capped ODI player with 371 games - showing his class. Getting into line and crisply timing his punches through the off side, Tendulkar got the huge Indian contingent at Kingsmead going with some vintage strokeplay as India progressed to 55 for 2 after 15, with Rahul Dravid offering him good support.
Two overs after the drinks break changed the complexion completely, as Dravid and Tendulkar fell in the space of three balls. Dravid fell first, beaten comprehensively by a sharp indipper from Charl Langeveldt, while Tendulkar followed soon after, inside-edging one off Nel, who has made a habit of nailing the biggest opposition batsman - he has dismissed Brian Lara 11 times in international cricket.
From there, it was one quick procession back to the pavilion, as none of the batsmen had any clue as to how to handle the bounce and pace. Suresh Raina and Dinesh Mongia edged to the slip cordon, Mahendra Singh Dhoni couldn't get his gloves out of the way, while the tail was simply no match for the fiery bowling.
The batsmen might have done well to pick a few tips on batting from Kallis, who batted quite magnificently in the early stages of his innings when the Indian attack was on top. He came to the crease in the second over, after Graeme Smith was trapped plumb by comeback-man Zaheer Khan, and immediately got into his stride, showing impeccable technique in defence and attack. Quick to capitalize on even marginal errors in length, he stroked sumptuous drives through cover and point off either foot. The dismissals of Loots Bosman and Herschelle Gibbs gave the Indians hope, but that was quickly shut out by Kallis's 87-run stand with AB de Villiers, who contributed a spunky 41.
The highlight of de Villiers's innings was the manner in which he dismantled Harbhajan Singh, employing the sweep shot quite superbly. He was particularly destructive in Harbhajan's fifth over, sweeping him fine for four, then tonking him over midwicket for six and rattling Harbhajan so much that he fired his next ball down the leg and conceded five wides. That onslaught meant the runs kept coming at a fast clip even though Kallis slowed down significantly - after getting 54 off his first 71 balls, he only added 51 in his next 80. Kallis's sluggish approach forced the other batsmen to take more risks and prompted a rush of wickets as India fought back in the middle overs, with Tendulkar - none for 33 from nine overs - doing a sterling job and making up for the lack of a specialist fifth bowler.
Mark Boucher, Justin Kemp and Pollock all failed as South Africa slumped to 209 for 7, but they had their man for their moment in Nel, who had a blast with the bat as well, crashing 22 from 12 balls. Kallis upped the tempo too, allowing South Africa to get up to nearly 250. As it turned out later in the evening, they could have done with much lesser than that.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo.