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ICC Champions Trophy
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September 25, 2002
2030 IST [Updated 2215]

Pool A:
Aus | Ban | NZ

Pool B:
Ind | Eng | Zim

Pool C:
Ken | SA | WI

Pool D:
Ned | Pak | SL

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India pull off stunning win
over South Africa

Faisal Shariff in Colombo

India pulled off a sensational victory over South Africa to romp into the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in Colombo on Wednesday.

Defending a not-too-impressive total of 261 for 9, the Indians restricted South Africa to 251 for 6 in their 50 overs to win the first semi-final of the tournament by 10 runs.

Virender Sehwag came up with a superb all-round performance. After hitting a blazing 59 off 58 balls to set up India's total, he bowled some tight final overs to take the match away from the South Africans, who were crusing along at 192 for one at one stage. He finished with three wickets for 25 from his five overs and deservedly won the man of the match award.

India innings

India surrendered the advantage of a blistering start and had to settle for a total of 261 for 9 off their allotted 50 overs.

Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock pulled back the Indian innings with brilliant bowling spells that left India 30 short of the desired total.

With a disciplined fielding outfit at his disposal, Pollock set the stage for an absorbing chase.

Luck smiled on Sourav Ganguly as he won the toss and elected to bat on a slow wicket, under lights, at the Premadasa stadium.

The impetus in Virender Sehwag's innings gradually grew against the Englishmen in the league match the other day. But this afternoon there was no respite for the South Africans, as the second ball of the innings was smacked past point for four. The Sehwag juggernaut rolled on with routine aplomb. Pollock was sent packing through the off-side, straight-driven down the ground for four and then pulled with disdain for another boundary. Even though Pollock plugged the gaps on the off-side, Sehwag sent the ball past the fielders at will.

The clinical approach of the South Africans dissolved in the fluidity of Sehwag's stroke-play. Boundaries came gushing from Pollock's overs as he finished his first spell of four overs giving away 28 runs.

Fortune stayed with Ganguly, as an edge flew off his bat over second slip for four. Off the very next ball, he pulled Makaya Ntini to the mid-wicket fence. Ganguly does not have the most elegant looking pull in cricket but it surely is very effective.

He was, however, dismissed hooking Ntini down to fine leg fielder Boeta Dippenar for 13 as Sehwag continued sniffing the gunpowder.

India crossed the 50-run mark in the eighth over as VVS Laxman and Sehwag -- two of the sweetest timers of the ball -- scored at a steady pace.

Sehwag smashed 12 off a Kallis over to reach his half-century off just 46 balls, and nine fours.

Allan Donald, having taken cortisone shots before the game, bowled with a lot of verve and thought, mixing the slow deliveries with his nagging ones outside off-stump. His spell put the brakes on the Indian innings and could well be the determining factor in the game.

Sehwag and Laxman brought up the Indian hundred in the 16th over before a twin disaster struck. Laxman and Sehwag departed in consecutive overs and the advantage of a good start was frittered away.

Looking to run down the ball to third man, Laxman nicked Donald at the wicket and walked for 22 after a 60-run partnership with Sehwag. A Kallis delivery hurried on to Sehwag, who played the pull and holed out to Klusener at mid-on.

India had slipped from 102 for 1 to 108 for 3 in an inspired spell of bowling from the South Africans, which was backed by some terrific fielding.

The senior pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid found themselves at the crease. The accumulated experience, which should have been shrewdly used to bail India out, was instead wasted.

Tendulkar called for a quick run after playing the ball to Jonty Rhodes, in the covers, who picked it up and threw in one action. Tendulkar was short of his crease by few centimeters. With the run-rate comfortably cruising at 5.75, the two batsmen, with 476 one-day caps between them, had to merely milk the bowling and set the stage for the final assault.

Yuvraj Singh joined Dravid and the two held the innings together in the face of some tight bowling by the bowlers. Left-arm spinner Peterson, who replaced Justin Ontong, bowled his stint of ten overs on the reel and came off commendably against the Indian batsmen -- probably the finest players of spin in the world. His ten overs cost 47 runs without any batsman managing to collar him.

India reached the 150-run mark in the 28th over and the sequence of the three fifties came in 44, 53 and 73 deliveries respectively.

Yuvraj finally broke through the shackles, smashing the first four in 49 deliveries with the score reading a healthy 178 for 4 in the 35th over.

But Dravid fell, one short of his half-century, when a Klusener off-cutter rapped his pads in the 41st over. The fifth-wicket partnership between Dravid and Yuvraj added 71 in 89 balls. They ran close to 50 singles between them.

India's most exciting combine of Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj then seemed set to take toll of the slog overs and get another 70-80 off the final nine overs. Yuvraj scored his half-century off 67 balls, taking 13 of a Donald over, pulling him for two fours in the 48th.

Pollock stemmed the flow of runs by dismissing Yuvraj and Kaif off consecutive balls, as only seven runs came in the last two overs. The duo added 47 runs before Pollock picked up three wickets in the 49th over for a single run.

Both batsmen went trying to force the pace and merely lofting the ball into the waiting hands of the fielders.

South Africa served an abject lesson in bowling at the death, restricting India to 261 for 9.

South Africa innings

India has learnt how to win, and how to keep winning.

Several moments come to mind as the final hour of play unfolded. The crowd leaving; those left behind cheering every dot ball; journalists sipping endless cups of coffee, waiting to add the final touches to their match report.

"We should have bowled first and chased," said an Indian journalist in the media box.

And then a cramp changed everything. Herschelle Gibbs, having scored a blistering hundred, complained of cramps due to the sapping humidity and retired.

It was 38 overs into the South African innings, and India seemed to be heading towards a huge defeat with the score reading 192 for 1. The only wicket to fall being that of Graeme Smith, who was brilliantly caught by Yuvraj Singh off the bowling of Zaheer Khan at point.

Harbhajan Singh ran in to bowl at Jonty Rhodes, fresh to the crease. Rhodes shaped up to sweep the ball, got a top-edge. The ball flew a few feet away from Yuvraj Singh, at short fine leg. Diving full length to his wrong side, the left-handed Yuvraj plucked a most unbelievable catch to give India a whiff of a chance.

It was a catch Rhodes would have applauded. But not today.

Boeta Dippenar swept Harbhajan and saw Kumble swallow the ball at fine leg. South Africa had lost three wickets for two runs and India sniffed a chance.

Even though the asking rate climbed, Kallis, with an unbeaten fifty at the crease, indicated that South Africa were always in the game. The runs were suddenly drying up as the Indians slowly grasped the match.

After much on-field discussion, Sehwag was asked to bowl the 42nd over. South African batsmen Kallis and Mark Boucher failed to find the fence, as the bowler gave only four runs in his first over.

52 runs were required from the final seven overs when Sehwag picked Boucher slog-sweeping and top-edging the ball to give Yuvraj his third catch of the match behind the keeper. (213-4)

Kumble bowled the 45th over for seven runs, as the target was 42 in 30 balls for South Africa.

Virendra Sehwag, bowling his flattish off-cutters with pinpoint accuracy, gave just three runs in the next over as South Africa seemed out of the game despite the presence of Kallis and Lance Klusener, both of whom were unable to produce the big strokes.

After Tendulkar bowled the 47th over for nine runs, the pressure on Sehwag to virtually seal the match by bowling a tight over was intense.

At the end of the over that cost five runs, the match was over for South Africa, who required 25 runs off the last two overs.

Zaheer Khan bowled an unbelievable penultimate over, maintaining a fullish length outside off-stump to set up the final over, which required 21 runs.

Kallis slog-swept the first ball from Sehwag for six. Fifteen runs were required off the final five balls. Kallis, looking to repeat the shot, saw the ball balloon in the air as Dravid did the rest.

Klusener, reliving the ghosts of the 1999 semi-finals of the World Cup, failed to reproduce his patent big strokes, holing out to Kaif off the last ball of the match.

The young Indian side fielded like champions, never letting the pressure get to them. It all seemed surreal as the team came together as a unit and everything clicked at the right time.

India won the match by ten runs and true grit to march into the final for the second successive time.

The similarity between Tendulkar and Sehwag has now spilled over to their bowling as well. Sehwag's five overs for 25 runs and three wickets changed the course of the match.



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