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Emotions run high on Ntini farewell

Makhaya Ntini's international career came to an end today on an occasion which was at least as much about emotion and show business as it was about cricket.

cricket Updated: Jan 10, 2011 01:15 IST

Makhaya Ntini's international career came to an end on Sunday on an occasion which was at least as much about emotion and show business as it was about cricket.

It was an official Twenty20 international - but Ntini's farewell, the setting in a World Cup football stadium, a Bollywood concert and a string of ceremonial presentations vied with the cricket for top billing.

South African President Jacob Zuma was due to make a presentation to Ntini to thank the former herdboy for the contribution he made to the game during a 13-year international career.

Ntini went on to the field ahead of the rest of the players before the match and was given an ovation by a crowd which was already close to the expected capacity attendance of about 47,000.

He told a television interviewer shortly before the game that he was feeling "nervousness and excitement."

The match also commemorated the 150th anniversary of Indians settling in South Africa and the links forged between the two countries, especially in cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar, the only player still active who was involved in the first international match between India and South Africa - in Calcutta in November 1991 - was also due to be honoured.

Before the match, special caps were presented to members of the South African team, led by Clive Rice, who made the historic tour. The 1991 tour marked the return of South Africa to international cricket after a 21-year absence because of the country's race policies. It was the first major tour by any South African team in the post-apartheid era.

"It was overwhelming but there was huge excitement," Rice said of the hastily-arranged trip which saw South Africa playing at a packed Eden Gardens only a week after the South African board agreed to send a team.

"I was called off the field during a club match on the Sunday before we went and I was told a team was being picked and we would be leaving a few days later."

Ntini, 33, had not played for South Africa since being dropped in December 2009 after the second Test against England.

He has continued to play for the Warriors franchise, taking only three wickets in four first-class matches, although he took seven wickets in seven games in a 40-overs competition and was the Warriors' most economical bowler.

The cricket was due to be followed by a concert with a line-up which included Bollywood stars Shahrukh Khan, Anil Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.

Presentations were to be made by President Zuma to South African and Indian political and business figures to commemorate ties between the countries.