Steyn gives SA selectors timely reminder

Dale Steyn gave the national selectors a timely reminder of his abilities with a five-wicket haul in the opening match of the Indian tour at Willowmoore Park on Thursday.

The Rest of South Africa beat India by 37 runs in their friendly match, after setting the visitors a target of 256 to win.

India were all out for 218 with five balls to spare. Steyn ended with figures of 5-22 off 10 overs, but his figures could have looked even better -‒ he bowled seven wides and three no balls.

India got off to the worst possible start when Steyn dismissed the two openers, Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Jaffer, in the fourth over.

Tendulkar was caught by Alviro Peterson for five, and Jaffer was caught by Ashwell Prince, also for five. Tendulkar’s five runs saw him pass the 18 000-run mark in limited overs cricket, although Thursday’s score will not be included in the statistics, as the two teams agreed before the game that it would be played as a friendly, with each team allowed to field 12 players.

Mohammed Kaif and Rahul Dravid put on 55 for the third wicket before Alfonso Thomas trapped Kaif lbw for 30 off 35 balls.

Steyn was brought back into the attack in the 19th over, and continued his onslaught, capturing the wickets of Mahendra Dhoni and Suresh Raina in his second spell.

Dhoni was given out lbw for seven, and Hashim Amla took an excellent catch at short leg two balls later to send Raina back to the dressing room without scoring.

In the next over, Thomas had Dinesh Mongia given out lbw without scoring, and India were reeling on 82-6.

Dravid and Irfan Pathan did much to restore respectability to the Indian innings, with a seventh-wicket partnership of 84 off 105 balls. The partnership ended when Thandi Tshabalala bowled Pathan round his legs for 34.

Dravid played a captain’s innings, but when Steyn came back into the attack for the third time, he got rid of the danger man with his first delivery, when he bowled Dravid for 79 off 99 balls to claim his fifth wicket.

It was Roger Telemachus who wrapped up the Indian innings with the first ball of the final over, when Zaheer Khan was caught behind by Morne van Wyk for 13, to give the home side their 37 run win.

Earlier, Jacques Rudolph and Albie Morkel tore into the Indian attack, after the Rest of South Africa made a pedestrian start to their innings. They put on 96 runs together off just 102 balls, before Morkel was caught by Kaif off Zaheer Khan for 57. He faced 63 deliveries, and hit five fours and three sixes.

But it was Rudolph who stole the show, with 72 off 53 balls. He hit seven boundaries and two sixes, and took 21 runs off the last over, bowled by Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.

Anil Kumble, brought back into the one-day ahead of next year’s World Cup, proved that he is still a wily competitor, as he mesmerised the South Africans with his guile to dismiss Neil McKenzie and Johan van der Wath off successive balls. He ended with impressive figures of 2-31 off ten overs.

The official part of the Indian tour gets under way on Sunday afternoon, when South Africa play India at the Wanderers in the first of five one-day internationals. — Sapa

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