<
>

Tendulkar, Kumble back in action

Randjesfontein, Oct 1: India began their tour of South Africa with a five-wicket victory over the Nicky Oppenheimer XI in a one-day match Monday.

The traditional tour opener was largely a limbering up exercise for India, who despite a slow start were never that pressed to reach a winning target of 245 for the loss of five wickets.

The Oppenheimer XI, who by mutual agreement batted first, declared their innings on 244 for three wickets.

Far more significant than the victory, though, were the performances of top Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar and leg-spinner Anil Kumble, the side's two key players who were both returning from injury.

Tendulkar, who missed the Sri Lanka series with a stress fracture in his right foot, made a brisk 45 off 36 balls, including eight fours, before he was trapped lbw by Mornantau Hayward.

Kumble showed no effects of the shoulder problem that kept him out for almost a year, taking two wickets for 47 runs on a pitch that favoured the batsmen.

"The performance of those two was the biggest plus for us today," India coach John Wright said. "Kumble felt good out there and I was pleased with his bowling. He looked effective in what were good batting conditions.

"Sachin also looked good. His return from the kind of injury he had is very much a confidence thing and it was good that he got some time in the middle."

The Oppenheimer XI innings was highlighted by a century from 20-yearold Jacques Rudolph.

Rudolph reached his 100 four overs before the 52-over declaration against an Indian attack that was more concerned with adjusting to the conditions. He took advantage of that, hitting 13 fours and one six before being dismissed for 109 when he was caught at mid-on by Verendra Sehwag off Kumble in the 49th over.

Loots Bosman's 62 and Graeme Smith's 54 enabled the hosts to declare their innings at lunch.