Clinical South Africa maul India by 135 runs

L Nandan

Durban, Jan 12 (PTI) India suffered a top-order collapseto slump to a humiliating 135-run defeat against a clinicalSouth Africa in the first cricket one-dayer here today.

Chasing 290 for victory, India were never in the huntafter they lost their first four batsmen for just 43 runs andwere ultimately bundled out for 154 in 35.4 overs.

Virat Kohli top-scored for India with a well-made 54 off70 balls and together with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (25off 35) added 52 runs for the fifth wicket to take India pastthe 150-mark.

Apart from Kohli and Dhoni, Suresh Raina was the othernotable contributory for India with 32 off 36 balls.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe was the pick of the South Africanbowlers with figures of four for 31 while pace partners DaleSteyn (2/29) and Morne Morkel (2/12) scalped two wicketsapiece.

Earlier, AB de Villers and JP Duminy notched upcontrasting half centuries to propel South Africa to achallenging 289 for nine.

South Africa were looking good for a few more, but fourwickets for just 56 runs in the last 10 overs somewhat foiledtheir plans.

Duminy (73 off 89) and de Villiers (76 off 69) scored atwill, picking the gaps and finding the boundaries withconsummate ease, after Hashim Amla (50 off 36) gave the hostsa flying start with an aggressive half-century at the SaharaStadium in Kingsmead here.

For India, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and Rohit Sharmafinished with two wickets each, while Harbhajan Singh, AshishNehra and Raina accounted for a victim each.

India''s run chase started on a precarious note as MuraliVijay fell in the fourth ball of the innings, lbw to Steyn.

If that was not enough, already carrying a depletedbatting line-up in the absence of Virender Sehwag and GautamGambhir, India were dealt a severe blow in the fourth overwhen Sachin Tendulkar perished, top-edging a Tsotsobe deliveryto Steyn at fine leg with the visitors scoreboard reading 13for two.

India''s problems were further compounded when Morkelstruck twin blows in the 11th over.

Rohit was the first of Morkel''s victim, caught bywicket-keeper de Villiers in the first ball of the 11th overbut the batsman felt otherwise and left the ground dejected atumpire Simon Taufel''s decision.

Much was expected from new man in Yuvraj Singh but he toofailed to live up to his reputation as he departed three ballslater, nicking another to de Villiers off Morkel. .

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