Arjun Raja is a NRIOL featured sports columnist. To read about Arjun Raja, please Know more.
Probably for the first time in the history of the One-day Game, a team won twice on the same day!
India chasing a massive 302 for victory in the first one-day international against South Africa needed 8 runs when the final over began. Three balls later the target was down to just a single boundary and the tension was unbearable for both the spectators and television viewers alike.
Pollock bowled a yorker aimed at off-stump which Kumble edged towards the third man boundary. Jacques Kallis hurled himself at the ball and stopped it well short of the rope. In the process he crashed into the boundary advertising hoardings. The Indians had run three runs to tie the match. The third umpire was asked to judge whether the ball had crossed the rope or not and incredibly he ruled that it had!
The players trooped off, the Indian batsmen, Robin and Kumble were heroes but not for long! The match referee ordered the players back onto the field to complete the game and I must add correctly so.
When play restarted India needed just a single to win and this they easily managed, to again spark off wild celebrations among the 75,000 strong crowd in the western sea port town of Kochi.
It was indeed a fabulous win, a perfect start to Ganguly's innings as captain of India. He couldn't have wished for a better team effort especially considering the target was a huge 302 against a very disciplined team with a fielding standard unmatched in world cricket....
When India started its reply, not many people would have given this side much of a chance. After all the team was losing every match off late, be it in tests or one-days. However skipper Ganguly led the way blasting the usually restrictive Pollock for 3 boundaries in the first over itself to make his intentions clear.
He was dismissed in the 7th over with the score on 45. Dravid, who had earlier bowled superbly to claim 2 wickets for 43 started off positively but fell when he had scored 17 with India 70 for 2 in 11 overs.
Soon Sachin and Joshi followed him into the pavilion, Sachin scoring a quick 26 but had very little of the strike which probably frustrated him into getting out.
At 101 for 4, it looked like the ghosts of Australia were back to haunt the Indians but even they hadn't reckoned with Jadeja and Azhar - both of whom were missing Down Under.
They settled down to play brilliant cricket adding 80 odd runs in quick time, experience of nearly 500 games between them showing in such a crunch situation. The asking rate however had climbed to over 6.5 now and Azhar was dismissed at that stage.
India still needed 122 to win in 18 overs.
Robin Singh, India's best player in such situations, walked in and proved to be the catalyst as far as Jadeja goes. He firstly assured Jadeja of his support, ran superbly between the wickets and soon it was a different ball game.
Jadeja realised that a few big hits were required to bring the run-rate required down to 6 or a run a ball and struck 3 huge sixes, 2 of the off-spinner Crookes and one of speedster Hayward- an incredible one-handed shot.
They added 92 in just 12.5 overs when Jadeja left the scene having scored 92 in just 109 balls with 8 fours and 3 sixes.
Still, India needed 30 runs in 30 balls and the silly decision (the only poor one for the day) to send Dighe instead of Kumble or Agarkar nearly proved costly. He scratched around for 5 in 9 balls at a crucial time and only because of Robin Singh's cool and calculated batting did India romp home victors in the end.
To complete the picture, mention must be made of the South African batting in the morning session.
Gibbs - a fantastic talent, and Kirsten - the experienced hand, combined brilliantly to add 235 for the first wicket, however the humidity totally sapped them of any energy after their fifties and this meant they were unable to force the pace or run as well as they can.
This resulted in the run-rate falling and coupled with Dravid's removal of Klusener for a duck, South Africa managed only 62 in the last 10 overs , 30 runs short of a par score after the start they had of 105 in the first 15 overs.
For India the plus points were a fine bowling effort by batsmen Tendulkar and Dravid and spinner Joshi who troubled all the batsmen.
Agarkar was pathetic and the way he has performed off late prompts me to wonder who is pushing him to stay in the side. He is terribly expensive for the one-day version of the game and his strike rate, which was great in the early part of his career, has fallen drastically.M
The major worry for India must be the lack of a strong wicket-keeper . Dighe was disgraceful. He missed 3 stumpings and never seemed to be confident and it showed when he batted as well.It is time a new young keeper was selected and given a fair run at the top.
All said and done it was a satisfactory day for the Indians but watch out for a wounded SA side, they will bounce back strongly in the second game of the 5 match series to be played on Sunday-12th at Jamshedpur. Read more
- Arjun Raja in Dubai, UAE
March 10, 2000
The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.For a listing of past columns by Arjun Raja, please Know more.