Pathan powers India to a thrilling win in 3rd ODI

L Nandan

Cape Town, Jan 18 (PTI) Yusuf Pathan''s pyrotechnicshelped India recover from a top-order collapse and eke out athrilling two-wicket win over South Africa in the thirdcricket one-dayer here today.

Pathan proved that fortune favours the brave during hisbreezy 50-ball 59-run knock as he took his chances andhammered the South African bowlers, especially the spinners,to all parts of the ground.

Chasing 221 for win, Pathan teamed up with Suresh Raina(37 off 47) to bring India back in contention with less than arun-a-ball 75-run sixth wicket stand after the visitors werereeling at 93 for five at one stage.

After Pathan''s dismissal in the 40th over, HarbhajanSingh (23 not out) took the onus on him to give India homeand with little help from Zaheer Khan (14) and Ashish Nehra (6not out) surpassed South Africa''s score with 10 balls to spareto give the visitors a 2-1 lead in the series.

More Morkel (3/28) was unplayable throughout the inningswhile Dale Steyn (2/31) produced the fire upfront for SouthAfrica.

Earlier, JP Duminy (52) and debutant Faf du Plessis (60)scored risk-free half centuries before Indian bowlers made aremarkable comeback in the final batting powerplay to bowl outSouth Africa for 220.

Electing to bat, Graeme Smith made a patient 43 off 79balls before Duminy and du Plessis steadied South Africa''sship with a 110-run fifth wicket stand that came off 125 ballsafter they were precariously placed at 90 for four.

But the highlight of the South African innings wasIndia''s disciplined bowling attack and catching in the field.

Credit should go to the Indian new ball pair of Zaheer(3/43) and Munaf Patel (2/42), who made life difficult for theSouth African batsmen from the word go.

Off-spinner Harbhajan (2/23) was not to be left behind ashe controlled the proceedings in the middle overs beforeZaheer and Munaf returned at the death to bowl out SouthAfrica in 49.2 overs.

The final batting powerplay backfired for South Africa asthey lost as many as four wickets for just 25 runs.

To add to skipper Smith''s woes, South African batterscould manage only 48 runs in the last 10 overs losing as manyas six wickets.

Murali Vijay''s (1) poor form at the top of the ordercontinued as he fell in the second over of the innings tostart India''s chase on a disappointing note.

Vijay was brilliantly caught by an athletic Dale Steyn ofhis own bowling after the right-hander was done in a by adelivery that stopped a bit on him on a slow Newslands track.

But Virat Kohli (28) started from where he left in theprevious match and made his intentions clear with three classyboundaries after arriving at the crease.

The pair of Rohit Sharma (23) and Kohli played cautiouslywithout taking any undue risks but when bad balls came theirway, they dispatched them to the boundaries with consummateease. .

The duo were especially severe on first change Wayne Parnell as the left-arm pacer bled 21 runs in his openingthree overs.

But the dangerous looking 76-ball 52-run partnership wascut short by an accurate Morne Morkel, whose twin blow insuccessive overs brought South Africa back into the game.

Kohli was Morkel''s first off the victim in the last ballof the 15th over. The in-form right-hander flashed hard off agood length Morkel delivery that extracted good amount of nipafter pitching, only to edge it to AB de Villiers behind thestumps.

And then in his next over the lanky right-arm pacercleaned up Sharma, who inside edged one to the stump , to seeIndia in a spot of bother at 61 for three.

In between, Yuvraj Singh (16) marked his arrival at thecrease in style carassing Lonwabo Tsotsobe to the extra coverfence to open his account.

To add to India''s misery, off-spinner Johan Botha struckgold in his second over in the form of Indian captain MahendraSingh Dhoni, who edged a short delivery to de Villiers.

However, the 23rd over from Parnell, which produced 10runs, somewhat relived India''s pressure. Brought back into theattack, the left-arm pacer was once again at the receiving endas Raina hit back-to-back boundaries of his first twodeliveries.

Smith then decided to replace Parnell with Duminy and theploy worked for the hosts as, after his exploits with the bat,the right-arm spinner tasted success with the ball as well,getting Yuvraj lbw in his third ball of the innings.

Pathan, who came into the team in place of injured SachinTendulkar, lived dangerously from the onset but his aggressiveinstict bore fruit for India.

He took Botha to the task, hitting him for two fours inthe 28th over and then followed it up with three toweringsixes of the off-spinner to make it the most expensive over ofthe series so far.

From there on, the duo played sensibly with occasionalrash shots from Pathan.

Forced back into the attack in the 37th over, Morkel onceagain produced the body blow to the visitors getting thewicket of Raina as he top-edged one to de Villiers.

But as was the case throughout the innings, Parnellturned out to be the weaklink in South Africa''s bowlingdepartment, going for 10 runs in his comeback over.

Luck also favoured India towards the end as, needing 43runs to win, Harbhajan was handed a life when a jumping Duminyfailed to latch on to a tough chance at point off Morkel.

The table, however, turned around completely in the nextover when dangerman Pathan was brilliantly caught by anoustanding Morkel at third man off Steyn.

But gutsy Harbhjan was in no mood to give up andclobbered Parnell over extra cover to reduce the margin to 19.

There was more drama in store when Zaheer was caught atmid-off by Smith off Tsotsobe but Harbhajan and Nehra ensuredthat there was no further hiccup for India.

Earlier, starting the proceedings, Zaheer produced abrilliant first over as he exracted swing and bounce to beatSouth African captain Smith a number of time. .

Smith survived a confident leg before wicket appeal in Zaheer''s second over with a ball that swung in sharply but theumpire was unmoved. Television replays suggested that theball would have gone over the stump.

India fired the first salvo in the seventh over whenZaheer bowled Amla (16) with a gem of a delivery. Amla triedto drive through covers but the ball angled in and took aninside edge to knock down his off stump.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni introduced hisspecialist spinner Harbhajan as early as the 12th overof the match and he troubled Smith in his very first over.

Harbhajan struck in his second over by getting rid ofColin Ingram (10) to reduce the Proteas to 49 for two.

Ingram, who has not been among the runs, stepped forwardto defend but only succeeded in edging the ball to Virat Kohliat slip, who pulled off a one-handed blinder.

The hosts then lost the wickets of de Villiers (16) andSmith in quick succession to find themselves in a spot ofbother at 90 for four.

Pathan struck in his very first over by getting rid of deVilliers with Zaheer taking a superb running catch in widelong on.

Harbhajan then accounted for Smith who attempted a sweepbut failed to time the ball and Kohli took his second catch atslip.

Then Duminy and debutant du Plessis joined hands toressurect the South African innings with the 100-pluspartnership.

Both Duminy and du Plessis were in no mood to take risksand toiled hard for their runs which came mostly in singlesand twos. The duo''s hardship can be gauged from the fact thatthey struck just three boundaries during their partnership.

With both the batsmen set at the crease, South Africatook their final batting powerplay in the 45th over but thedecision misfired as both du Plessis and Duminy made hardlyany imapct, departing when their team needed them the most.

Du Plessis, who was struggling with cramps, was the firstto show some signs of urgency, lofting Munaf over mid-off fora four in the 45th over before departing in the next ball insearch one too many. He was caught by an agile Kohli at theedge of the circle as the batsman went for an inside out shotover cover.

Duminy was then cleaned up by Zaheer in the next over tomake matters worst for the home team. And as if the twin blowwas not enough, new man in Wayne Parnell was run out two ballslater in search of a double.

Johan Botha, Dale Steyn and last man Lonwabo Tsotsobewere no better with the bat as they departed in quicksuccession towards the end.

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