Ntini gets a grand send-off
He may have gone for 46 runs in his four overs today, but you could take a five-for in a Twenty20 and not get the kind of applause Makhaya Ntini did after he finished his quota. The whole crowd stood as one and gave him a long, long ovation, and Ntini acknowledged every section of them. He kissed the crest on his jersey, had one last look at the green and gold, then bowed for the crowd that wouldn't stop clapping for him. To sit in Moses Mabhida Stadium was to realise how much Ntini meant to this country. For this moment alone, the rest of the unnecessary song and dance during the cricket could be forgiven.
Anything goes in the name of entertainment in Twenty20 cricket, but the man or woman who manned the music at the ground was a little too enthusiastic. Ashish Nehra had to pull out of his delivery in his very first over because the music just wouldn't stop. It was a problem that would pop up more than once. And all this before Shah Rukh Khan had even entered the stadium.
Surely it couldn't have been planned this way? In the 10th over of the South African innings, Morne van Wyk drove Yuvraj Singh wide of Ashish Nehra at sweeper-cover, and two runs seemed on. Watching Nehra throw the ball back limply, two became a certainty, only for Suresh Raina - fielding at extra cover - to jump in the air, collect the ball, and zip in the throw. He hit the only stump visible to him and AB de Villiers was gone.
van Wyk made an immediate impact replacing Graeme Smith in the team. From Smith's customary mid-off position, he ran back, looking up, taking one moment to look down and call for the catch, and then dived almost full length to finish the catch cleanly. It is fair to say that M Vijay was unlucky.
The VVS Laxman
Also making a comeback to T20 internationals was Hashim Amla, who immediately looked to hit the ball harder than he had during the Tests. To the third ball he faced, the bat went across the line, which is not unusual for him, but here he was looking to hit the hide off the ball, and missed it altogether. Could be too early to call, but Amla looked as out of place in this cricket as Laxman does in the IPL.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo