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At R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, September 25 (day/night). India won by ten runs. Toss: India. International debut: R. J. Peterson.
With 14 overs left, this match was a dead duck. But when the team in control are South Africa, masters of the late choke, the fat lady thinks twice before opening her mouth. So it was that Sehwag - tossed the ball as late as the 42nd over - won India a match they should have lost by some distance. Chasing 261, Gibbs had torn the bowling to confetti with some magnificent cover-drives, sweeps and contemptuous pulls. But an attack of cramp in both hands forced him off after 37 overs and the remaining batsmen took it as a signal to fall apart. Rhodes's top-edged sweep off Harbhajan was superbly caught, one-handed, by Yuvraj, and when Dippenaar and Boucher holed out, the onus was on Kallis and Klusener to see them home. Klusener batted like a blind man teeing off, while Kallis, who made 97, was apparently playing for a draw. By the time the final over rolled round, 21 were needed. A Kallis slog-sweep for six off Sehwag gave the Indians brief alarm but the encore ended up in Dravid's gloves. The match belonged to Sehwag, whose blistering 59 had set India on their way. Though they stuttered mid-innings, Dravid and the classy Yuvraj provided late momentum before Pollock came back to dismiss thoughts of 300. But the heat, humidity, Sehwag and South Africa's own demons conspired to ensure that 262 was too tall an order for cricket's nearly men.
Man of the Match: V. Sehwag.