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News

South Africa take first Test by nine wickets

After three days of wonderfully entertaining cricket in the first Castle Lager/MTN Test match, India folded up on the fourth day as South Africa swept to a nine-wicket victory and, almost certainly, a considerable psychological advantage in the

Peter Robinson
06-Nov-2001
After three days of wonderfully entertaining cricket in the first Castle Lager/MTN Test match, India folded up on the fourth day as South Africa swept to a nine-wicket victory and, almost certainly, a considerable psychological advantage in the three-match series.
India had just about matched South Africa over the first two days, but the home side took a grip on the game during the third day and on Tuesday they squeezed the life out of the Indians.
From a position of some respectability at 96 for one on the third evening, India lost their last nine wickets for just 141, leaving South Africa 54 to win. This they did with little difficulty despite losing the wicket of Herschelle Gibbs along the way.
It was an efficient and sometimes exhilarating effort from the South Africans in a Test match that belted along throughout. The difference between the sides in the end was the fact that whenever the South Africans found themselves in a tight spot, they had the sense and the skill to wriggle out of it. India, by contrast, finally wilted under the pressure.
The Indians will no doubt point to the absence of Harbhajan Singh as a major handicap, and he was badly missed as South Africa built their first innings total of 563. At the same time, India shot themselves in the foot by picking two left-arm seamers, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan, neither of whom had bowled a ball in the country. On a pitch that had bounce and carry and assisted the bowlers prepared to put something into it, Ajit Agarkar was left on the sidelines.
And so the South Africans were able to build a 188-run lead on the first innings, thanks, in no small part, to Lance Klusener's return to form after a very ordinary year. Klusener's 108 took the game away from the Indians and then Shaun Pollock turned the screws on the Indians during the fourth day.
The South African captain had never taken 10 wickets in a match before this Test, but he had taken four for 91 in the Indian first innings and when the opportunity, or opportunities, presented themselves, he grabbed them.
None of the Indians got going in the second innings. Or, rather, many of them did, but failed to carry on. VVS Laxman was caught at slip in the second over of the day for 29. SS Das was caught at the wicket, slashing wildly at Nantie Hayward in the third over for 62 and then Jacques Kallis struck a crucial blow for South Africa when he had Sachin Tendulkar caught at point.
From there on India were doomed and they knew it. Makhaya Ntini, who had an indifferent game, produced a snorter of a ball to get Sourav Ganguly caught at the wicket (and, no doubt, ensure that the Indian captain gets any number of balls stuck up his nose every time he goes to the crease in the South Africa) and then Pollock worked his way down the order.
He bowled Virender Sehwag off an inside edge for 31 and, after Nantie Hayward had trapped Anil Kumble leg before, finished off the last three wickets.
There was some biffing and banging around from Nehra and Javagal Srinath as the last wicket pair put on 31, but eventually Neil McKenzie caught Nehra in the deep and Pollock had his 10th wicket.
South Africa lost the wicket of Gibbs early in the quest for 54 runs, but Jacques Kallis joined Gary Kirsten, the captains agreed to forego tea and South Africa took just 59 minutes to wrap up victory.
It was, as Indian coach John Wright conceded, an impressive effort from the South Africans. "They're a very good team," he said, adding that, "since the first day we've been outplayed. We didn't put on enough runs on the second morning."
"Today was a disappointing batting performance," he said. "If you lose nine wickets in a day, you're not going to win many matches that way."