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McKenzie leads SA to victory

Neil Mckenzie stood like a rock on a deteriorating wicket to lead South Africa to a morale-boosting five-wicket win over India.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2003 11:21 IST

Neil Mckenzie stood like a rock on a deteriorating Bangabadhu Stadium wicket to lead South Africa to a morale-boosting five-wicket win over India in an inconsequential TVS Cup league match on Friday. Only formalities remained when McKenzie departed for 80 off 109 balls. He would be unhappy at not having been there till the end.

South Africa, chasing 215, achieved the target in the 49th over.

The new strip did behave a bit oddly. After five games on flat wickets, this one turned out to be quite a treacherous one. The bounce was uneven and there were those deliveries, which just took off -- like the one from Makhaya Ntini that sent Virender Sehwag to hospital.

Batting second was always going to be difficult and when Sourav Ganguly won the toss for the third time in this tri-series, he gleefully decided to bat.

However batting first was not easy. And even though the game had nothing at stake, the South African bowlers will be delighted with their tight line and length that restricted India.

Ganguly's 61 stood out in the Indian innings, which struggled to come to terms with the difficult wicket. But then, that was only half the job done. It was for the South African batsmen to complete a good day in office. There were the jitters and the fortune swings, but in the end, 27-yar-old McKenzie made the difference.

He defended the fort when the Indians had their tails up. And when the time came to strike back, he was not found lacking. Aided by Jacques Rudolph in repairing the early damages and then by Mark Boucher, when he launched the counter-attack, McKenzie's innings was just what South Africa required.

That the South African batsmen had a tough task at hand was evident when Avishkar Salvi and Ajit Agarkar started off by spitting as much fire as Ntini. Salvi induced a Graeme Smith's edge to Parthiv Patel with a 138 kmph delivery that zipped through the air and shot off the ground.

Herschelle Gibbs did not learn even after an edge off a Salvi no-ball was caught by Sehwag. He kept on trying the shot, prompting Boeta Dippenaar to walk down with soothing words.

Harbhajan Singh, introduced in the 12th over, whipped off Gibbs' bails with his second ball and then trapped Dippenaar leg-before with his fourth. It was advantage

India and Ganguly was ready for the kill. Off-spin from both ends by the 14th over tested the capabilities of Rudolph and McKenzie. As they struggled, umpire Billy Bowden shadow-practised his defensive strokes.

If India had scored 61 in the first 15 overs, South Africa managed 50. Around that stage, started the South African revival, ending in a well-earned victory.

Earlier, the South African bowlers exploited the conditions well in the afternoon. Allan Dawson finished with his first four-wicket haul and Ntini grabbed three. Andrew Hall forced India on the back-foot with some tight bowling.

Apart from making the Indian batsmen toil hard for their runs, South Africa managed to shake their confidence by injuring Sehwag. The Indian vice-captain was in good touch, hitting three fours, before a Ntini delivery hit him hard on the right forehand.

Scorecard

First Published: Apr 18, 2003 13:38 IST