Clinical South Africa thrash top-ranked India

NAGPUR, India - India found their number one ranking under threat after South Africa orchestrated their first defeat on home soil in almost two years on Tuesday.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Tue 9 Feb 2010, 11:28 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 2:30 AM

Clinical South Africa won the first test by an innings and six runs to move into a strong position to wrest back the top ranking, taking a 1-0 lead into the final match of the two-test series starting in Kolkata on Sunday.

Fast bowler Dale Steyn returned a match haul of 10-108 and left-arm spinner Paul Harris bowled a marathon 38 overs including 17 maidens for his three wickets in the second innings to frustrate India.

India were bowled out for 319, despite Sachin Tendulkar (100) scoring his 46th test century, to give the tourists the advantage in an intriguing series between the top-ranked teams.

“We know how tough it is to play (in India), how satisfying it is to get a victory; we got one in 2008 and we had to work just as hard for it and played terrific cricket,” South Africa captain Graeme Smith said.

Steyn, the world’s top-ranked bowler, had taken five wickets to set up South Africa’s win in Ahmedabad two years ago, the last time India lost a test at home. India drew that series 1-1 by winning the third and final test on an unpredictable Kanpur pitch.

Tuesday’s crushing defeat with a day to spare ended India’s undefeated 14-test streak that allowed them to climb to the top of the official rankings in December.

It was also Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s first defeat in his 12-match career as skipper, putting pressure on the charismatic wicketkeeper-batsman who needs to win the final test to draw the series if India are to hold on to their top ranking.

“This is the one thing that we really want to tick off as a team you know, to win here in India,” said Smith.

“In a two-match series we have taken that first step to win the series; a massive call for all of us.”

Hard work

South Africa’s preparations for the highly-anticipated tour were disrupted when long-serving coach Mickey Arthur resigned and the entire selection committee were sacked following the drawn test series against England at home last month.

“It is hard work to win here. You need to be really clinical in terms of the game plan,” Smith said.

“It is important that we play our kind of cricket, we can’t come here and expect to play like India. They play a different variety of game to us.

“We have really got to try and adapt our style of play to these conditions. We did that very well throughout the game. We used our bowlers in short spells and made sure that they made an impact each time they had the ball in hand.”

Harris’s three wickets included the prized catch of Tendulkar after he frustrated the master batsman by bowling a defensive leg-side line.

Steyn, who is approaching the 200-wicket mark in tests, fired out debutant Wriddhiman Saha (36) and Amit Mishra (0) in his final spell in a display similar to his career-best seven for 51 in the first innings.

“Obviously it was on the back of a terrific first innings score which we know is crucial in India,” said Smith.

Man of the match Hashim Amla hit a double century and Kallis struck 173 to put South Africa in control.

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