Pathan's heroics go in vain, India lose ODI series against SA | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Pathan's heroics go in vain, India lose ODI series against SA

cricket Updated: Jan 24, 2011 09:48 IST
Subhash Rajta
Subhash Rajta
Hindustan Times
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South Africa must have thought they had the match in their pocket. The crowd in the stands looked completely convinced of the imminent victory. They must have started making plans about how to spend the remaining Sunday evening.

With Indian batsmen pressing the self-destruction button and staring down the barrel at 74 for 6 within 15 overs, the crowd couldn't have been blamed for thinking it was all over. After all, no one could have foreseen the storm that was about to rage in the SuperSport Park that would almost blow away the victory that looked served on a platter.

When Yusuf Pathan began unleashing his lusty blows, the only purpose one thought it would serve was that it would make the imminent Indian defeat less humiliating. But as the frequency of his hits started increasing, and Zaheer Khan dug in his heels at the other end, the scoreboard started galloping towards the 268-run target.

It wasn't long before Pathan was standing with his hands aloft in front of the stunned and mesmerised crowd after blazing his way to a 68-ball hundred, studded with eight sixes and seven boundaries. As he stood there celebrating his incredible knock, a sense of awe and admiration overwhelmed everyone in the stadium.

On his way to that hundred, he treated the world's best attack with astounding indifference. The unimaginable India victory, at one stage, had begun to look quite possible when he got to his hundred. However, a mistimed stroke off Morne Morkel saw his effort come to an end, and so did the Indian chances.

Zaheer Khan, too, deserves special praise for his doggedness. He stood his ground firmly and shared an almost match-turning century partnership for the ninth wicket with him. Eventually, India fell short by 33 as per the Duckworth Lewis system.

While Pathan's knock couldn't save India from defeat, it surely did save them from being humiliated and disgraced after South Africa's Hashim Amla had produced an imperious century.

South Africa had looked very happy to be given an opportunity to bat first and came out firing on all cylinders. While skipper Graeme Smith fell early, his opening partner Amla anchored the innings, underlining his tremendous form throughout this series.

On two earlier occasions, Amla had thrown away his wicket after completing his half-century, but this time he looked determined to make it big and did exactly that. India helped his cause when substitute R Ashwin dropped a catch off Rohit Sharma.