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Abu Dhabi T10 (5)
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Hazare Trophy (18)
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Toss: South Africa. Test debut: D. Ganesh.
A stand of 222 between Tendulkar and Azharuddin not only averted another abbreviated Test but illuminated the game with its sheer brilliance and aggression in the face of adversity. It occupied just 40 overs. Azharuddin, scoring 115 in 110 balls, with 19 fours and a six, provided the major share. But Tendulkar kept going to save India from following on and was last out, after nearly six hours, to an outstanding catch by Bacher at deep mid wicket.
India were 58 for five when Tendulkar and Azharuddin came together, replying to South Africa's highest total since isolation. It included three centuries. The first, from Kirsten, took nearly five hours; chastened by escapes at nought and ten, he avoided risks, yet batted positively, keeping in step with Cullinan during a partnership of 114. Srinath and Prasad had bowled splendidly when fresh but, once they tired, the attack was innocuous, and a firm, true pitch encouraged aggression. Kirsten was eventually run out off a no-ball and early on the second day South Africa, at 299 for six, were not safe.
But the limited Indian attack stalled as McMillan and Richardson put on 83 before the No. 9, Klusener, launched a spectacular century - 102 in 100 balls, the fastest recorded in terms of balls by a South African Test player - with 13 fours and two pulled sixes. Klusener and McMillan, who also reached a valuable hundred, put on 147, breaking a 94-year-old South African eighth-wicket record. Klusener had not finished. Before the close, he ran out Raman and had experimental opener Dravid playing on. Night-watchman Prasad lasted only one ball against Adams. In the first over next morning, Ganguly steered Donald to second slip. Laxman, after an uneasy half-hour, deflected Pollock down the leg side.
That was the start of the Tendulkar-Azharuddin stand, whose tone belied India's desperate plight. Azharuddin, free of the responsibilities of the captaincy, played the more exotic - and often unorthodox - shots; Tendulkar was more orderly, but attacked in a grand manner. In a six-over spell after lunch, Klusener was hit for 30 and South Africa were forced on to the defensive. Azharuddin constantly took risks and, with the stand at 197, Cronje held a skimming drive at extra cover, but, landing on his elbows, lost his grip. A run later, Tendulkar played a square cut to gully which a juggling Hudson muffed. But an over or two of restraint caused Azharuddin to fret, and he ran himself out with India 50 short of saving the follow-on. Tendulkar averted it with two wickets standing. Strangely, one of the most enjoyable of all Test cricketing afternoons was also a short one. The lunch interval was extended by 15 minutes because the early part of the break had been taken up by a lengthy presentation of the players to President Mandela, who warmly expressed his support for cricket's contribution to the new South Africa. In extreme heat the fielders needed all the rest they could get.
India's recovery continued as they captured three wickets for only 33, but partnerships between Hudson and Cullinan and then McMillan and Pollock played them out of the match. Cronje's declaration, 426 ahead, left South Africa a minimum of 118 overs to bowl India out, but they needed only 67. The openers - this time, Raman and Mongia - were again easy meat and all the middle order played careless shots.
Man of the Match: B. M. McMillan. Attendance: 74,009.
Close of play: First day, South Africa 280-4 (W. J. Cronje 35*, B. M. McMillan 13*); Second day, India 29-3 (S. C. Ganguly 19*, S. R. Tendulkar 1*); Third day, South Africa 24-2 (A. C. Hudson 7*, L. Klusener 10*); Fourth day, India 52-3 (S. C. Ganguly 11*, S. R. Tendulkar 6*).