Colombo: South Africa were eliminated from the ICC World Twenty20 earlier on Tuesday and made sure they took another pre-tournament favorite with them, crossing the 121-run mark that ensured India joined them in departing Sri Lanka earlier than anticipated.
India began and ended their defense of 152 with a flurry of wickets, the second burst securing a one-run win in the final match of the Super Eights at the Premadasa, but it was not enough to take them into the semi-finals.
Pakistan’s 32-run win over Australia at the same venue had left India knowing exactly what they needed to do to reach the semi-finals, but a sluggish batting effort made life all the more difficult. After posting 152 India’s only hope was to keep South Africa to 121, but it was not to be as Faf du Plessis counter-attacked with a match-winning half-century after a shaky start to the run-chase. South Africa famously chocked once again, but it was too late for India who for the third time in a row were knocked out before the tournament semi-finals despite a 5-1 record this time around – the crushing loss to Australia proving immense in the final picture.
They were given a boost when South Africa slumped to 46 for 3. Zaheer Khan provided a terrific start by getting Hashim Amla to drive a catch to Virender Sehwag at slip without a run on the board. Jacques Kallis – promoted to opener with Richard Levi dropped after a lean run – also went cheaply, turning a ball from Irfan Pathan to Rohit Sharma at midwicket for 6. The jitters had set in. Next to go was AB de Villiers, chopping the first delivery from Yuvraj Singh onto his stumps for 13.
Levi’s replacement, du Plessis, provided the desired drive with a counter-attacking innings. He began by hitting Zaheer and Irfan out of the attack and when the spinners came on he worked the ball around to keep the asking rate in control. MS Dhoni oddly gave the ball to Rohit Sharma ahead of R Ashwin and that 13-run over allowed South Africa to regain lost ground.
Du Plessis sped to a half-century off 29 balls and looked set to continue until the end, but trying one shot to many was held at long-off to give Yuvraj his second wicket. By that time South Africa were 27 runs shy of knocking India out and even the wicket of JP Duminy (16) with the score at 107 was not enough to stop them from achieving their target. India should have had another but Ashwin criminally overstepped, and with that blunder India consigned themselves to another Super Eights exit. Even a cluster of wickets as South Africa’s lower order imploded to hand over a hollow victory was not enough to significantly lift Indian spirits. Defending 14, L Balaji conceded two sixes to each of the Morkels but also dismissed the brothers, crucially bowling Morne off the final ball to secure a one-run win.
This was a defeat that played out in the first innings when, having been put in to bat, India quickly slumped to 36 for 3 from the Powerplay overs. Gautam Gambhir’s poor run continued when he was bowled by Morne Morkel for 8, Virat Kohli (2) was trangled down the leg side by a bouncer from Kallis, and Sehwag (17) was bowled by Peterson trying to hit a second successive six.
That wicket in the sixth over prompted de Villiers to bring on his second spinner in Johan Botha, but that move also brought out the attacker in Yuvraj, who struck a flowing six over extra cover. An even bigger shot off Peterson followed, and then Botha was pulled wide of mid-on for four. Immediately de Villiers called Morkel back into the attack, and the tall fast bowler struck with a lovely slower delivery that castled Yuvraj for a brisk 21. Morkel nearly had another in his second spell when Botha put in a terrific effort running back from mid-on when Rohit miscued a slog, and in the same over the bowler put down a hard caught and bowled catch off the same batsman.
From 68 for 4 in ten overs, India managed 84 in the next ten. Rohit went next, lbw for a sluggish 25 off the last ball of Peterson’s quota to end a 44-run stand with Suresh Raina (112 for 5). Raina hit 45 off 34 balls and Dhoni injected a busy 22 off 12 as India scored 23 of the final two overs, but in the end it proved an insufficient total.
Brief score: India 152 for 5 in 20 overs (Suresh Raina 45, Rohit Sharma 25; Robin Peterson 2/25, Morne Morkel 2/28) beat South Africa 151 in 19.5 overs (Faf du Plessis 65; Zaheer Khan 3/22, L Balaji 3/37, Yuvraj Singh 2/23) by one run