Justin Kemp played a truly remarkable innings at the picturesque Cape Town to break the hearts of millions of Indian cricket fans in the third ODI. South Africa who at one stage were in tatters at 76 for 6 went onto put up a massive 274 on the board and in reply Indian batsmen faltered yet again to crash to a 106-run defeat.
It was a bad morning for South African Cricket following a selection row. Andre Nel who was one of the main architects of a South African win at Durban was dropped in favour of Andrew Hall. The Selectors had enforced the change much to the dislike of the Skipper Graeme Smith and the Coach. The row was settled and it was Graeme Smith who got lucky with the coin and he decided to bat first on a wicket that didn’t have much grass and was on the slower side compared to Kingsmead. India made some wholesale changes to their team! Four changes in all with Sehwag, Dinesh Karthik, Pathan and Kumble coming in for Jaffer, Raina, Mongia and Munaf.
Just the second ball of the match saw an unsettled Graeme Smith get bowled through the gate by a big incoming delivery from Zaheer Khan. The Proteas didn’t even open their account and in the fourth delivery of the same over, Kallis chased a wide one in his drive to be taken in the slips! It was an amazing turn around for the tourists who had SA at 0 for 2 in 0.4 overs! Gibbs, the no.4 bat finally looked like getting his touch as he played some good looking strokes. But Gibbs and his partner, Loots Bosman were dismissed in the space of eight deliveries and South Africa with that slipped to 42 for 4 at the end of 12 overs. Gibbs had moved onto 35 from 40 balls before he uppishly drove Pathan to Kaif at covers. Bosman’s wicket was once again taken by Zaheer whose first spell figures were destructive with 7-4-9-3!
A tiny partnership followed between AB de Villiers and Mark Boucher before the latter had been run out by Kumble. Asked to come for a difficult second run, Boucher was struggling to reach the non striker’s end where Kumble had collected Pathan’s throw to drop it onto the stumps. The third Umpire took a long time but eventually made the right decision in giving Boucher out. It was soon 76 for 6 with AB de Villiers steering Agarkar to the keeper, Dhoni. It was a shot played in madness as AB de Villiers was going well with his 29 that came in 30 balls. It was never going to be easy to bowl out the South Africans as they have batting right till the end. Pollock and Kemp got stuck in there to bring some respectability to the total.
It was a 60-run partnership between Kemp and Pollock that looked to have spoilt the initiative of the Indians. In the 36th over, India managed to find the breakthrough thanks to the brilliance of Kaif. Pollock who pushed Harbhajan defensively was sent back by Kemp after an attempt to steal a single. Dhoni quickly got to the ball and he threw it back to Kaif, the short leg fielder. The throw was a wide one but Kaif dived to collect it and take the bails off to run out Pollock. It was a useful innings of 33 from 50 balls from Pollock. India had a great chance to rap up things and set themselves to chase a small total. But Kemp and Hall had other ideas as they took their side to the slog overs and then the carnage began. Justin Kemp smacked anything that was pitched up out of the ground. Hall on the other hand played to his potential; he has been a Test Match Opener who has come in at no. 9 in this game!
The last 10 overs were taken for as many as 113 runs by Kemp and Hall who created the new world record for the highest 8th wicket partnership. The pair had put up 138 runs in just 87 balls. Kemp had reached his maiden ODI hundred in the final over and remained exactly on a 100 which came in 89 balls with 6 fours and 7 monstrous sixes! Hall who wouldn’t have played this match remained unbeaten on 56 from 47 balls with 7 fours. Zaheer Khan took a beating in his last three overs to end up with 3 for 42 from 10. Anil Kumble was treated with respect and his 10 overs produced just the 24 runs, but he couldn’t get a wicket.
India were off to a dismal start losing Sehwag to an upper cut in the first over of the innings. Tendulkar played a pull to the fielder at square leg and next was kaif chopping his pull shot onto his stumps. All the three batsmen were dismissed by Shaun Pollock and India were down and out at 17 for 3. The scoring rate from India was almost dead with Dravid getting into the survival mode. Dinesh Karthik, the new man smacked two sixes and a boundary before he became Ntini’s first victim. Dhoni who came next smashed Ntini straight over the ground for a huge six and it was an indication of things to come. Dhoni was looking for the big hits whenever he got the right length and he had also gone for the pull shot when the bowlers banged it in. India found enough hope with Dravid and Dhoni putting up a commanding partnership. But Dhoni fell soon after reaching his 10th fifty as his pull shot off Kallis was brilliantly taken by Bosman at deep mid wicket. Dhoni with his 48-ball 55 which also had four sixes proved that he can play his game in any conditions.
Once Dhoni was gone, there wasn’t much hitting power left. Dravid was all the time anchoring and was very slow in helping India’s cause. He didn’t get much support from the tail enders and was the ninth wicket to go down after getting a top edge in his pull off Pollock. Dravid had scored 63 which took him 103 balls; surprisingly his innings consisted of a six off Shaun Pollock. India were bundled out for just 168 in 41.3 overs. The hero with the ball was Shaun Pollock with 4 for 26 in 9 overs. Hall helped himself with three wickets. Kemp was the obvious choice for the Man of the Match award. Indians would be ruing about the two chances they had put down off Kemp early on, one of which was a simple caught and bowled for Tendulkar which could have had a different result.