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Indian team got its first taste of Twenty20 cricket

by admin
December 2nd, 2006

The Indian team got its first taste of Twenty20 cricket, or Pro20 as it is called in these parts of the world, and loved almost every lick of it. After restricting South Africa to a mean 126 for nine, they huffed and puffed home with one ball to spare, for their first victory on this tour.In the dying moments, it looked like India would come undone again. But man-of-the-match Dinesh Karthik,killed the tension with a massive six off the first ball of the last over. His 31 and Dinesh Mongia’s 38, accompanied by Virender Sehwag’s blistering 34 set up an exciting finish to their first ever Twenty20 game.

Some wags might like to call it the Sourav Ganguly effect. In fact, almost all the members in his fan-club played minor roles in turning it around. It, of course, also helped that South Africa were without six of their key players, including the menacing Makhaya Ntini and Andre Nel.Most of India’s players may not yet quite understand this game’s nuances, but they didn’t seem perturbed by the details. They bowled as aggressively as they normally do, in the initial overs, to take charge of the match.Some swishing and lot of swashing by the South African batsmen too helped. The quick demise of captain Graeme Smith, their Pro20 specialist Loots Bosman and biggest hitter Justin Kemp made things easier. Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth bowled enthusiastically and were rewarded for their effort.

India lost Ajit Agarkar with a groin pull after bowling just 2.3 very good overs; that prompted Sehwag to turn to his spinners. It was a delicate moment, with the match quite capable of turning on its head, but Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh held their nerves.Despite some big hits by Albie Morkel, they kept the scorecard under check. The stream of wickets at regular intervals made life easier for them too. South Africa raced to 50 in 60 balls and 100 in the 16th over but lost steam after that.

It was now up to the batsmen, the villains of the tour so far, to deliver the match. Tendulkar and Sehwag, the two most explosive batsmen on paper, opened the chase. For a couple of overs, though, it looked like they were trying to see the new ball through first. But then Tendulkar essayed a classic cover-drive and followed it up with another boundary. Two deliveries later, however, he dragged the ball back into his stumps.Dinesh Mongia, who has a fair bit of Twenty20 experience, arrived and played a loose drive and survived. But he was ready for the first short ball: a cracking pull gave India the fillip they desperately needed. Sehwag flicked one to square-leg, then cut ferociously that tumbled out of third man’s hands for a six.

A delicate cut past the wicket-keeper saw India race to their 50 in the seventh over itself. Sehwag then began the onslaught, cutting one that shot to the boundary like a rocket. For a brief moment it looked like the Sehwag of old. But then disaster struck.Mongia drove straight to mid-off and set off for a single. Sehwag responded in good faith. But Mongia changed his mind on seeing that the fielder was much closer than he had estimated, Sehwag tried to regain ground, even diving headlong, but fell short.

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