South Africa's superior bowling and fielding skills enabled them to win the LG Cup final against India by 26 runs at Nairobi on Sunday. In a well contested match, India were in the game on more than one occasion but faltered at crucial junctures both when South Africa were batting and during their own innings.
Put in to bat, South Africa were rocked by some inspired bowling by Venkatesh Prasad and Mohanty and were 18 for three in the 11th over. While Mohanty bowled Klusener first ball, Prasad removed Kallis and Rhodes through slip catches.
Gibbs and Cronje initiated a rally by putting on 78 runs for the fourth wicket off 13.5 overs before the South African captain was beaten in the air and bowled by Chopra for 39, inclusive of three fours and two sixes. The recovery process continued with Gibbs and Crookes, promoted in the order, adding 53 runs for the fifth wicket in 9.1 oveers. Crookes was then well caught by wicketkeeper MSK Prasad off Mohanty for 25. Gibbs' anchor innings came to an end when he was sixth out at 187, bowled by Bhardwaj for 84, compiled off 124 balls with the help of six fours and three sixes. India then came back strongly into the game with Bhardwaj also dismissing Benkenstein and Boucher while Dawson was run out. But Pollock hit a timely unbeaten 23 off 24 balls with a six and a boundary and he and Elworthy took 16 runs off the last over of the innings bowled by Chopra. South Africa were able to post a challenging total of 235 for nine in 50 overs.
When India batted, they suffered two early blows with the dismissals of both openers Ramesh and Ganguly with only 25 runs on the board in the ninth over. Dravid and MSK Prasad, promoted in the order, set the innings back on course with a third wicket partnership of 65 runs. But accurate bowling and keen fielding saw to it that the runs did not come at a nifty rate. Dravid fell in the 27th over at 90 for 30 off 65 balls but Prasad and Jadeja then gave the scoring rate some impetus with a fourth wicket stand of 51 runs off 9.5 overs before the Indian captain hit Pollock to substitute Dippenaar at square leg for 30 off 32 balls, inclusive of two fours and a six. Hereabouts Prasad was overcome by cramps and had Dravid as a runner. But soon he was unable to continue and retired when his score was 56. The game had reached an interesting stage with India's target now approaching seven an over but with six wickets in hand. Robin Singh did not last long, being bowled by Crookes, trying to sweep and this made India 163 for five in the 39th over. But India's batting depth saw them stay in the fight as Bhardwaj and Joshi now got some quick runs. At 190 for five after 43 overs, India needed 46 runs off seven overs. But the fall of Bhardwaj and Joshi in successive overs was a major double blow from which India could not recover. Prasad came back to resume his innings but then lost Chopra at 201 in the 46th over. With Prasad being run out in the next over for a gallant 63 off 90 balls inclusive of six hits to the ropes, India's hopes evaporated. The match ended in the following over when Mohanty was leg before to Kallis and India were all out for 209 in 47.3 overs. In fact the end came all too swiftly as the Indians lost their last five wickets in successive overs from the 44th to the 48th for the addition of only 19 runs.
Gibbs won the man of the match award while the Indians had some consolation with Bhardwaj taking the man of the series award. South Africa who had lost to India by eight wickets in the league, turned the tables at the all important juncture.