It’s another matter that India had won the Second ODI at Gwalior by a whooping margin of 153 runs to seal the 3-ODI Series against the Proteas 2-nil. What really mattered was that after 2961 One Day Internationals and after 39 years, we have a double century finally! The man who achieved the feat had to be Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, the Bradman of ODI Cricket! Sachin lasted 50 overs without using a runner unlike Saeed Anwar and the legend obviously created the new highest individual score in an ODI – 200 NOT OUT! The fact that an India got achieved that landmark was a proud moment for the one billion population!
It was a problematic afternoon for the Proteas ever since they lost the toss. India opted to bat first and the opening over from Steyn showed that there was no swing and seam movement on offer. Sehwag (9) wasted the perfect opportunity of easing to a big hundred when he recklessly upper cut Parnell to thirdman in the 4th over. After that early loss of Sehwag, it was all a Sachin Tendulkar and India show at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium. The outfield was so deadly quick that the pair of Tendulkar and Dinesh Karthik had to just put the ball in the gaps to collect boundaries. At the same time, the outfield proved to be nasty and bumpy as JP Duminy split a webbing while fielding a powerful drive at covers followed up by fast bowler Charl Langeveldt taking a bloody blow on his upper left eye!
While Tendulkar is professional enough to cash in big on perfect batting conditions, Karthik on the other hand had to prove that he could convert his good starts into meaningful scores. There was absolutely no challenge posed by the bowlers because of the concrete-like pitch. Karthik was intent on picking up singles and giving the strike to Tendulkar. Both the right handers packed the punch when required and the only specialist spinner Roelof van der Merwe got toyed around while the faster bowlers were just meager bowling machines. Sachin reached his 46th ODI hundred in 90 balls with 13 fours. Karthik who got to 79 (from 85 balls with 4 fours and 3 sixes) was eventually caught miscuing a pull shot off Parnell. Little Karthik who registered his highest ODI score helped Sachin in adding up a massive 194 runs for the second wicket.
After the exit of ‘David’ Karthik, entered the monster – ‘Goliath’ Yusuf Pathan in the 34th over. Now Sachin could breathe easy and give his arms the much needed rest and let Yusuf play his natural game. A couple of sixes and four boundaries flew from the mighty Pathan during the batting powerplay which was taken as and when he entered. Pathan disappointed by cutting his stay to just 23 balls in which he scored 36 and taking India to 300 for 3. Tendulkar was on 168 at this stage when Dhoni entered the party scene.
Dhoni kept the high-voltage momentum going with his wristy big shots and Tendulkar had enough time to calm down the adrenalin and get to the unbelievable 200 with a controlled steer behind point in the final over. MS Dhoni played the demolishing act with an unbeaten 68 from 35 balls with 7 fours and 4 sixes. Tendulkar, the unconquered Emperor walked away with 200 not out from 147 balls with 25 fours and 3 sixes. India piled up 401 for 3 and if there was any side that had successfully chased a target of 400+ in an ODI, then it was South Africa! Sri Lanka had come close to doing that not so long ago because of Tillakaratne Dilshan.
The central figure in the monumental chase of 434 in an ODI at Johannesburg – Herschelle Gibbs, failed to recreate that magic today and was dismissed after improvising too early. Gibbs had dragged a paddle off Praveen Kumar onto his stumps in the 3rd over. India kept on making inroads after that to secure the match. Next to go was pinch hitter Roelof van der Merwe (miscuing a heave off Sreesanth), opener Amla (34 from 22 balls, miscuing pull off Sreesanth to mid on), Kallis (dragging his cut shot onto his stumps off Nehra) to leave SA at 83 for 4 in the 11th over. In the 14th over, Alviro Petersen thought he was pulling a long hop from Jadeja but it was a deadly arm ball that cleaned up his stumps. And in the 15th over, JP Duminy got out with his bat outside off and the pad around middle to be plumb infront to a skidding drifter not from Harbhajan Singh but from Yusuf Pathan.
South Africa quickly slipped to 103 for 6 and then to 134 for 7 when Boucher was lbw after missing a sweep off Yusuf Pathan. With the dew showing its full intensity, the bowlers failed to make the ball talk and that helped AB de Villiers to stitch a partnership with Wayne Parnell. The pair took SA past 200 and it was only in the 37th over that Parnell (18 from 43 balls) was forced to inside edge onto his stumps by a sharp inswinger from Nehra. Sreesanth followed it up with a crashing inswinger to knock the stumps of Steyn (0). India had to face a stiff resistance from the last wicket pair of AB de Villiers and Langeveldt after that. The match ended in the 43rd over when a slog from Langeveldt was brilliantly caught by the forward diving Nehra at mid wicket. AB de Villiers remained unbeaten with a fighting 5th ODI century, 114 not out from 101 balls (with 13 fours and 2 sixes). That innings helped SA get to 248 and reduce the margin of defeat greatly.
It was a good show from the Indian bowlers until the dew made them helpless. The spinners once again did a fabulous job. Even a little kid would have guessed who the Man of the Match was to be!