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Sight Screen

Monday, November 28, 2005

India 21-30

Throughout this phase, Graeme Smith has been exhorting, almost pleading with his bowlers for one wicket to prise open the game with; SA's best chance was with India on 109/3 (Rahul Dravid then 32), when Dravid blasted a flighted one from Botha back down the track, failed to find the elevation to clear the bowler, and saw the ball pop in, and out, of Botha's hands; the flub caused almost entirely by the velocity of the ball, that gave the bowler no time to curl his fingers around the catch.
Outside of that, India has been playing this almost clinically. South Africa's game plan here has been to keep the field well in, to dry up the singles almost entirely; what has kept India ahead in the game is the shot-making, that has produced 19 fours and one single (82 runs out of the total in boundaries) thus far.
The lack of singles in between (between them, Dravid and Yuvraj have just 22 thus far) could have hurt had South Africa managed another 30-odd runs in its innings; given the ask, 131/3 at the end of 30 (SA 109/3; India 41 in the session without losing a wicket) has the situation well covered. With the ask under the 100-mark in the last 20 overs and the ball getting softer, this is now officially India's game to lose.
PS: The wicket is hard yet; the ball is coming on. India thus far has eschewed tinkering with the batting order, and opted for a conventional chase, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Dhoni walk out at the fall of the next wicket, to try and crack open the game, since India has the option of Kaif still in the hut to return to the conventional route if that fails.

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