Matches (18)
IND v AUS (1)
Asian Games (W) (2)
Malaysia Tri (1)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (3)
Gulf T20I (3)
CPL 2023 (1)
BAN v NZ (1)
RHF Trophy (1)

Africa XI steal two-run victory

Africa XI beat Asia XI by two runs in Centurion

Asia XI 196 all out in 48.1 overs (Razzaq 38, Sangakkara 35, Pollock 3-32) lost to Africa XI 198 all out (Prince 78*, Boucher 42, Zaheer 3-37) by two runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Boeta Dippenaar hits out for Africa XI © Getty Images
Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis took three wickets apiece as Africa XI squeaked past Asian XI by two runs in the inaugural game of the Afro-Asian Cup at Centurion. In a low-scoring game, the hosts were bowled out for 198 in the 45th over, with Ashwell Prince top-scoring with 78. In reply, Asian XI stumbled to 96 for 6 in the face of some incisive swing bowling from Shaun Pollock, and cameos from the lower order couldn't prevent the home team from stealing a slim victory and a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Pollock struck three times in one over to reduce the visitors to 52 for 3, and with both Inzamam-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi falling to poor shots, Asian XI were six down at the halfway mark. Abdul Razzaq and Anil Kumble put on 56 runs to begin rebuilding the innings, before Zaheer Khan (20 not out off 21 balls) and Shoaib Akhtar (15 off 13) brought the team to the verge of a thrilling victory. But it was not to be. With three runs to get from two overs, the young fast bowler Dale Steyn uprooted Ashish Nehra's middle stump to end the innings at 196, and sent the sparse Centurion crowd home happy.
At the start of the innings, it didn't look like it would even be close. Kumar Sangakkara opened the batting in the company of Virender Sehwag, and was strangely the more belligerent of the pair. He took a particular liking to Steyn, as the opening partnership rattled on to 50 without loss.
It was only in the 11th over that Pollock finally found the reward for a penetrative spell of swing bowling. He first got Sehwag to waft at an awaysinger, then induced a nick from Yousuf Youhana, and finally suckered Mohammad Ashraful into a hook shot off his first ball (52 for 3). Inzamam-ul-Haq looked intent on asserting control despite some prodigious movement from Pollock, but he fell, rashly, to an attempted pull off Justin Kemp. It was 59 for 4, and all the good work of the opening pair had been undone.
Shahid Afridi lasted all of ten stroke-filled balls, before he edged in the general direction of the slip cordon, having been unable to adapt his natural game to the demands of the situation. Sangakkara, who had been playing the lone hand in stringing the innings together, departed shortly before the halfway stage after dragging a slower ball from Kallis onto his off stump.
What followed was a gutsy partnership between Anil Kumble, who scored 24, and Abdul Razzaq who played a remarkably subdued innings en route to 38. Kumble missed the line of a Kallis delivery that trapped him in front, while Razzaq followed three overs later, snicking a slow turner from Boje to the keeper. Shoaib clobbered a big six off Kemp to take the team close, but was out next ball, cutting the same bowler to point. Nehra came in with six required, but only added three with Zaheer before Steyn took care of him.
Earlier in the afternoon, an insipid batting display in the face of some penetrative swing bowling caused African XI limp to 198. Overcast conditions and a hint of swing influenced Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Asian XI captain, in deciding to insert Africa on a slowish Centurion track. AB de Villiers and Boeta Dippenaar, the two South African openers, seemed ring-rusty, having come off a three-month layoff. In Akhtar's fourth over, de Villiers, after swatting a six over fine leg and a boundary through the covers, was slammed on the pads by a ball that would have knocked out middle stump (39 for 1).
The collapse was underway. Dippenaar slugged Zaheer through the covers before edging an awayswinger into Sehwag's hands. Justin Ontong lasted the single ball that swung in and trapped him plumb. Jacques Kallis, the lynchpin of the South African batting lineup, skied Zaheer to Ashish Nehra at fine leg, a poor choice of shot given the state of the game. And Steve Tikolo, one of the two Kenyans in the side to give an all-Africa feel to a South African team, nicked Nehra to the keeper. 57 for 5, and the innings looked in shambles.
It was revived by Prince, who has clearly grown as a batsman since the start of the England series, and Boucher, who looked busy from the word go. Neither looked pretty, but merely knocked the ball around in a composed, controlled fashion for the majority of their stand, which lasted 21 overs. The partnership, which blossomed with the emergence of the sun from behind the clouds, ended almost with a sense of inevitability to Muttiah Muralitharan. Boucher, trying the sweep once too often, missed it and was hit on the pad (141 for 6).
The South African tail, accomplished batsmen some of the time, gradually came unstuck. Shaun Pollock was baffled by Anil Kumble's pace, Nicky Boje got an edge trying to leave Shahid Afridi alone, and Justin Kemp, supersubbed in place of the anonymous Thomas Odoyo, couldn't get out of the way of a vintage Akhtar yorker. Steyn hung about to add 24 valuable runs with Prince, before he succumbed to a nifty bit of fielding from Nehra. 198 all out, and as they found out later that evening, a total that was just about enough.

African XI
AB de Villiers lbw b Shoaib 24 (39 for 1)
Missed the line of ball which rapped him on the pads
Boeta Dippenaar c Sehwag b Zaheer 14 (44 for 2)
Edged awayswinger to slip
Justin Ontong lbw b Zaheer (44 for 3)
Misread the inswinger which trapped him plumb
Jacques Kallis c Nehra b Zaheer 4 (53 for 4)
Skied pull to fine leg
Steve Tikolo c Sangakkara b Nehra 0 (57 for 5)
Edged awayswinger to the keeper
Mark Boucher lbw b Muralitharan 42 (141 for 6)
Missed sweep and was trapped in front
Shaun Pollock b Kumble 2 (152 for 7)
Tried to turn quicker ball on to the legside
Nicky Boje c Sangakkara b Afridi 3 (164 for 8)
Caught the edge while trying to pull his bat out of the way
Justin Kemp lbw b Shoaib 4 (174 for 9)
Fast, full, straight
Dale Steyn run out (Nehra) 3 (198 all out)
Found short while taking quick single
Asia XI
Virender Sehwag c Boucher b Pollock 21 (50 for 1)
Aimed leaden-footed waft
Yousuf Youhana c Boucher b Pollock 1 (52 for 2)
Drive off front foot found edge
Mohammad Ashraful c Tikolo b Pollock (52 for 3)
Mistimed hook
Inzamam-ul-Haq c Dippenaar b Kemp 3 (59 for 4)
Skied pull to fine leg
Shahid Afridi c Boucher b Kallis 13 (89 for 5)
Edged awayswinger to the keeper
Kumar Sangakkara b Kallis 35 (96 for 6)
Dragged slower ball on to offstump
Anil Kumble lbw b Kallis 24 (152 for 7)
Missed the line of the delivery; trapped him plumb
Abdul Razzaq c Boucher b Boje 38 (169 for 8)
Fine edge into keeper's gloves
Shoaib Akhtar c Ontong b Kemp 15 (193 for 9)
Cut to point
Ashish Nehra 1 b Steyn (196 all out)
Missed line, middle stump uprooted

Ranajit Dam is staff writer of Cricinfo