Reflecting on their thrilling one-run defeat against India at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, South Africa captain Jacques Kallis has said Wayne Parnell's performance with the bat, under pressure, was one of the positives they could take out of the game. Parnell, batting at No.9, scored 49 and was run out off the final ball with South Africa needing three runs to win.
The left-arm seamer didn't make much of an impression with the ball, taking 1 for 69 off nine overs. He walked in in the 36th over of the chase with South Africa in trouble at 180 for 7. Kallis and Parnell had added 45 for the eighth wicket, but when the captain fell, India were still well in control. But Parnell's stand of 65 with Dale Steyn gave their side a fighting chance of pulling off an improbable win. Steyn smashed a 19-ball 35 before falling in the final over, as South Africa's hopes rested on the well-set Parnell.
"He's a talented cricketer and he's going to take a lot away from today. Everytime he plays he's going to learn. He's still very new to the subcontinent," Kallis said. "He's got all the attributes of becoming a good allrounder and that's something that he's working on. He's a man for the moment, so he's certainly got a bright future ahead of him."
One of the biggest turning points in the chase was Sachin Tendulkar's save at the boundary in the final over. Charl Langeveldt pulled the ball to long leg where Tendulkar dived full length to his right and pulled it back before the rope. Replays weren't conclusive if Tendulkar had simultaneously made contact with the rope and the third umpire gave the benefit of the doubt to the Indians. The South Africans ran three but that extra run was the difference between a tie and an Indian win.
Kallis accepted the third umpire's call but referred to another bizarre incident, also involving Langeveldt, in the final over of India's innings. Langeveldt's yorker to Ashish Nehra had hit the stumps but the bails weren't dislodged. To add to South Africa's ill luck, the ball deflected to the third man boundary, adding a crucial four runs to India's total of 298.
"That's not our call - that's what third umpires are there for and he saw that it wasn't four and we've got to accept it and get on with it," Kallis said of the Tendulkar incident. "I think what came back to haunt us was Charl Langeveldt's second last ball that hit the stumps and went for four, which was incredible."
Kallis said he was pleased they had managed to restrict India to just under 300, but the real worries were with the batting. Kallis scored 89 but the rest of the batsmen failed to rise to the challenge, which left plenty for the lower order to handle. The recognised batsmen struggled against the left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who took 2 for 29 from his 10 overs on a good batting pitch.
"I think on the whole we're pretty happy with the way things have gone, although obviously there are things we need to work on. Our death bowling has been a problem for a while but the guys did really well there. At one stage it looked like India would make 330," Kallis said. "On the batting front we need to make sure we don't lose wickets along the way and get some big partnerships going to set the game up. Perhaps we've got to come up with ideas for the way Jadeja bowled - I thought he bowled really well and tied us down for a while, so we've got to make sure that we're strong on our game plans there."
Indian captain MS Dhoni, on the other hand, said India needed to work hard on their bowling.
"It was a team effort and from that perspective it was a good show, but we need to do better with our bowling," Dhoni said. "We cannot give away the runs we did with the new ball, although we were a bit hampered by the absence of Sehwag in the field. He made himself unfit while batting and could not bowl.
"When there are so many runs needed and when the No.9 and 10 batsman are at the crease, you don't really expect your best bowlers to get hit the way they did. Credit must go to the batsmen, but I'm sure we would do better in the next game if the conditions are the same."
The second ODI will be played in Gwalior on Wednesday.