Thursday, February 18, 2010

Harbhajan heroics keep India at No. 1

India 643 for 6 dec (Sehwag 165, Laxman 143*, Dhoni 132*, Tendulkar 106) beat South Africa 296 (Amla 114, Petersen 100, Zaheer 4-90, Harbhajan 3-64) and 289 (Amla 127*, Harbhajan 5-59, Mishra 3-78) by an innings and 58 runs.

Player of the series HM Amla (South Africa)

India just about managed to thwart a stubborn resistance from South Africa's Hashim Amla and the tailenders to clinch a series-levelling innings and 58 runs victory in the final Test to retain their status as the number one Test team here on Thursday.

The hosts, who needed to pick up the remaining seven wickets to draw the series 1-1, were made to wait till the very fag end of a dramatic fifth day's play for their moment of glory with Hashim Amla nearly carrying the Proteas to safety with a defiant unbeaten 127.

Resuming at 115 for three after conceding a mammoth 347-run first innings lead, the South Africans were all out for 289 with just 15 minutes remaining on a nail-biting last day.

Spinners Harbhajan Singh (5/59) and Amit Mishra (3/84) were the wreckers-in-chief as they ripped through the South African middle order but it was the stout resistance from Amla and the tailenders which delayed the victory.

It was a remarkable effort by Amla who not only notched up his 10th Test ton but showed amazing temperament and skill to negotiate the Indian bowlers on a fifth day Eden Gardens track and very nearly saved the game for his team.

After the tea break, the Indians were literally racing against time to dismiss the last three wickets in the tense post-tea session and the injury-induced absence of Zaheer Khan did have a bearing.

Harbhajan claimed the last wicket of Mornie Morkel, trapping him leg before wicket, to mark India's victory and send the vociferous Eden crowd into a frenzy.

The fiesty off spinner ran towards the boundary line and was soon hugged by his teammates who celebrated the victory.

Amla and Morkel defied the Indians for 124 balls to frustrate the hosts who just could not get the breakthrough despite deploying an attacking field right through thWith the Test series ending with honours shared, both the teams will now gear up for the three-match one-day series beginning in Jaipur from Sunday.

South Africa really a good side and they played fantastic cricket in Nagpur. We played better cricket here and we set our fields, bowled according to the fields and we created pressure.

We batted well, VVS Laxman was special, MS Dhoni was brilliant, Sachin Tendulkar was amazing and so was Virender Sehwag. I think overall we played terrific cricket

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