Harbhajan Singh celebrates the dismissal of Hashim Amla, who top-scored with 33, at Durban.
Harbhajan Singh celebrates the dismissal of Hashim Amla, who top-scored with 33, at Durban.

Zaheer Khan is 'the difference' against South Africa

After six days of South African domination, this much-hyped clash of cricket’s best sides exploded into life on a dramatic day at Kingsmead that saw 18 wickets fall in 77.2 overs. By the time poor light took the players off at 5:17pm, India were 166 ahead with six second-innings wickets standing.

There was little hint of what was to come as much of the morning session went according to South Africa’s plans. MS Dhoni’s straight six off Dale Steyn was the lone note of defiance as the hosts wrapped up the last four Indian wickets for 15.

Steyn finished with 6 for 50 and though Zaheer Khan took out both openers – Graeme Smith nicking one behind and Alviro Petersen slightly unfortunate to be bowled off the pad – Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis were looking as resolute as they had been at Centurion where they added 230.

The game turned with the ball brushing Ishant Sharma’s fingertips as Amla drove one back down the ground. Kallis thought he had made his ground, but replays found him inches short. Soon after, Sreesanth, who had been dire in his opening spell, produced a peach that lifted and left AB de Villiers to send South Africa in to lunch at 74 for four.

After the interval, it was spin rather than pace that broke the back of the innings. Harbhajan Singh was enjoying the extra bounce and when Amla was trapped in front trying to sweep, it exposed a tail that hasn’t had much batting in recent times.

Zaheer returned to bowl Ashwell Prince off the inside edge, while Harbhajan got both Steyn and Paul Harris courtesy magnificent close-in grabs.

Dravid dived to his left at slip to take Steyn, his 200th catch and the 50th off Harbhajan, while Cheteshwar Pujara flung himself to the right at short leg to leave South Africa 103 for eight. Morne Morkel helped Mark Boucher add 24, but when Harbhajan took his fourth to end the innings, South Africa had faced eight fewer balls than India had in their first innings at Centurion.

“They’re the No 1 team in the world, and we expected them to bounce back,” said de Villiers afterwards. “Obviously, Zaheer’s return made a difference. He put us under pressure from the start. We batted extremely poorly.”

Harbhajan was full of praise for Zaheer, whose performance mocked local predictions that India were incapable of bowling South Africa out. “He’s been outstanding for us,” he said. “He doesn’t just take wickets, but also helps the others to bowl better.”

With a crowd of just over 10,000 in attendance, Virender Sehwag started the second innings intent on inflicting further punishment. Every error in line or length was punished and India were 116 to the good when his disdain for Lonwabo Tsotsobe’s left-arm medium-pace changed the complexion of the game.

An awful flail outside off stump went off the edge to Boucher, and it was double trouble when Murali Vijay could only glove a brute of a delivery from Morkel to the man at short leg. Worse was to follow as the two most experienced campaigners managed just eight between them. Dravid gifted Tsotsobe another wicket chasing a wide one, while Sachin Tendulkar steered the first ball of Steyn’s second spell to third slip.

At 56 for four, India were sinking, but Pujara and Laxman added 36 in 76 tense minutes to redress the balance somewhat. Laxman has a reputation for second-innings heroics, but day three could be the making of Pujara, whose ability to adapt after playing most of his cricket on a slow, low Rajkot pitch was especially impressive.

With more sunshine expected on Tuesday, the pitch could play easier and there was no hint of complacency in the Indian dressing room. “Tomorrow is D Day for us,” said Harbhajan. “We need to bat well the first session and set them more than 300.”

If they can manage anything in excess of 275, this slow-burning series could yet go to the wire.



India, 1st innings (Overnight 183-6):

Virender Sehwag c Kallis b Steyn 25

Murali Vijay c Boucher b Steyn 19

Rahul Dravid c Boucher b Steyn 25

Sachin Tendulkar c Kallis b Tsotsobe 13

VVS Laxman c Tsotsobe b Steyn 38

Cheteshwar Pujara c Boucher b Tsotsobe 19

Mahendra Singh Dhoni c Petersen b Steyn 35

Harbhajan Singh c de Villiers b Steyn 21

Zaheer Khan c Boucher b Morkel 0

Ishant Sharma not out 1

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth c Boucher b Morkel 0

Extras: (1b, 2lb, 4w, 2nb) 9

TOTAL: (all out, 65.1 overs) 205.

Fall of wickets: 1-43, 2-48, 3-79, 4-117, 5-130, 6-156, 7-190, 8-193, 9-205, 10-205.

Bowling: Dale Steyn 19-6-50-6, Morne Morkel 19.1-3-68-2 (2nb), Lonwabo Tsotsobe 11-3-40-2 (1w), Jacques Kallis 8-2-18-0 (1w), Paul Harris 8-1-26-0.

South Africa 1st Innings:

Alviro Petersen b Khan 24

Graeme Smith c Dhoni b Khan 9

Hashim Amla lbw Harbhajan Singh 33

Jacques Kallis run out (Sharma) 10

AB de Villiers c Dhoni b Sreesanth 0

Ashwell Prince b Khan 13

Mark Boucher not out 16

Dale Steyn c Dravid b Harbhajan 1

Paul Harris c Pujara b Harbhajan 0

Morne Morkel c Harbhajan b Sharma 10

Lonwabo Tsotsobe c Vijay b Harbhajan 0.

Extras: (2lb, 1w, 12nb) 15

TOTAL: (all out, 37.2 overs) 131

Fall of wickets: 1-23, 2-46, 3-67, 4-74, 5-96, 6-100, 7-103, 8-103, 9-127, 10-131

Bowling: Zaheer Khan 13-2-36-3, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth 8-0-41-1 (5nb, 1w), Ishant Sharma 9-2-42-1 (7nb), Harbhajan Singh 7.2-2-10-4.

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Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier

From September 18-25, Abu Dhabi . The two finalists advance to the main event in South Africa in February 2023

Group A: United States, Ireland, Scotland, Bangladesh
Group B: UAE, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea

UAE group fixtures:
Sept 18, 3pm, Zayed Cricket Stadium – UAE v Thailand
Sept 19, 3pm, Tolerance Oval - PNG v UAE
Sept 21, 7pm, Tolerance Oval – UAE v Zimbabwe

UAE squad: Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Kavisha Kumari, Rinitha Rajith, Rithika Rajith, Khushi Sharma, Theertha Satish, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Suraksha Kotte, Natasha Cherriath, Indhuja Nandakumar, Vaishnave Mahesh, Siya Gokhale, Samaira Dharnidharka


Goalkeepers: Alisson, Ederson, Weverton

Defenders: Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Eder Militao , Danilo, Alex Sandro, Alex Telles, Bremer.

Midfielders: Casemiro, Fred, Fabinho, Bruno Guimaraes, Lucas Paqueta, Everton Ribeiro.

Forwards: Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Richarlison, Raphinha, Antony, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Pedro, Rodrygo


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Getting there and where to stay

Fly with Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to New York’s JFK. There's 11 flights a week and economy fares start at around Dh5,000.
Stay at The Mark Hotel on the city’s Upper East Side. Overnight stays start from $1395 per night.
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David White might be new to the country, but he has clearly already built up an affinity with the place.

After the UAE shocked Pakistan in the semi-final of the Under 19 Asia Cup last month, White was hugged on the field by Aayan Khan, the team’s captain.

White suggests that was more a sign of Aayan’s amiability than anything else. But he believes the young all-rounder, who was part of the winning Gulf Giants team last year, is just the sort of player the country should be seeking to produce via the ILT20.

“He is a delightful young man,” White said. “He played in the competition last year at 17, and look at his development from there till now, and where he is representing the UAE.

“He was influential in the U19 team which beat Pakistan. He is the perfect example of what we are all trying to achieve here.

“It is about the development of players who are going to represent the UAE and go on to help make UAE a force in world cricket.” 

The Bio

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Favourite place to relax in UAE: the desert around Al Mleiha in Sharjah or the eastern mangroves in Abu Dhabi
The one book everyone should read: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It will make your mind fly
Favourite documentary: Chasing Coral by Jeff Orlowski. It's a good reality check about one of the most valued ecosystems for humanity

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