India hung onto a 1-run win in the first ODI at Jaipur having set a target of 299. The South Africans were down and out in their chase under lights when they got reduced to 161 for 6 and then at 225 for 8. It was almost a miracle that they almost broke the hearts of the spectators by getting so dangerously close to the target thanks to a spirited stand of 65 for the 9th wicket between Parnell and Steyn!
South Africa led by Jacques Kallis had won the toss and opted to field first to avoid the dew. They got their first success in the 2nd over itself when Sachin Tendulkar ran himself out to a shot played by Sehwag at covers. Sehwag after that mix-up repaired the innings with the in-form Dinesh Karthik and the runs were coming in at a decent pace. The two right handers put on 79 before Sehwag himself was run out in the 15th over in the most unfortunate fashion. It was a straight drive from Dinesh Karthik that was deflected by Langeveldt onto the stumps to run out Sehwag (46 from 37 balls with 6 fours and 2 sixes) who was caught backing up.
Karthik like always failed to cash in on the excellent start he got and perished having made just the 44 (from 56 balls with 5 fours and a six). The little man was bounced out by Langeveldt who challenged him to play the pull shot. India got a big blow in the 24th over when Skipper MS Dhoni drove one uppishly to mid off in the bowling of Kallis to leave the side at 138 for 4.
The Proteas were in with a great chance to bowl out India but the heavy batting line-up of the hosts prevented that from happening. Suresh Raina came good to score a neat half century, 58 from 63 balls with 6 fours and a six). The left hander stretched India to 260 for 7 before getting caught behind in the 44th over. All the other players chipped in with useful cameos to take India to 298 for 9. Kallis was the most successful bowler with 3 for 29 from 7 overs. The South Africans bowled pretty well on what was a docile track. The minus point was that they had given away 13 wides!
South Africa were off to a good start getting to 50 in quicktime without any loss. It was in the 9th over that India found its success when Bossman (29 from 23 balls) making room lost his leg stump by one that nipped back from Praveen Kumar. In the 12th over, India got the double breakthrough when Herschelle Gibbs (27 from 40 balls) jumpped out to Ravindra Jadeja but only to be holed out at long off. South Africa were on the backfoot at 64 for 2.
After Gibbs’ exit, there was a good partnership that followed after this through Kallis and AB de Villiers which took SA past the 100. In the 20th over, AB de Villiers (25 from 23 balls) did the fatal mistake of cutting an arm ball from Jadeja which stayed low to clean him up. India soon got the fourth wicket in the 26th over when Alviro Petersen failed to drag his bat into the crease in a risky second run. In the 28th over, Albie Morkel missed a full length inswinger from Ashish Nehra to be lbw and in the 32nd over, Boucher bottom edged a cut off Sreesanth to Dhoni. That left SA in dire straits at 161 for 6.
The match was in India’s grip with only Jacques Kallis having the potential to win it. He lost one more partner in Johan Botha who was lbw sweeping a full ball from Pathan. Kallis (89 from 97 balls with 6 fours and a six) himself left the ground when he got clean bowled playing a rash shot off Sreesanth in the 43rd over with SA at 225 for 8. It was supposed to be India’s game after that but a surprising and a stiff fightback came in the form of Wayne Parnell and Dale Steyn. With the dew setting in, the bowlers didn’t get the ball to talk their way as well and the two tail-enders blasted their shots through the line.
The penultimate over from Ashish Nehra was a shocker as he kept on bowling length balls to leak as many as 16 runs and the one before from Sreesanth produced 14.
South Africa were left with 1o runs to win from the final over with two wickets in hand. Praveen Kumar under pressure got rid of Dale Steyn with the second ball. Steyn by then had got a sensational 35 from 19 balls which included three sixes. After a three followed by a wide, SA needed three to win from the final ball. Parnell (49 from 47 balls with 4 fours and a six) after slashing the last ball to thirdman didn’t find enough time to complete the second run which would have resulted in a tie. Instead it was Sreesanth and Dhoni keeping their cool to effect a run out.
The Man of the match went to Ravindra Jadeja for his 10-2-29-2. It wasn’t any magic balls from him but just darts from round the sticks to cramp up the batsmen.