Durban: In a cricket match in which the result and the players' performances took a backseat, South Africa beat India in a World Cricket Legends match, organised by Beyond Boundaries at the Phinda Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal on Tuesday.
After opting to bat, India set South Africa a target of 99 after managing to score 143-3. Since the match was played in a double-wicket format, each dismissal cost the team 15 runs from its total.
The hosts chased down the target quite easily as they put up 145-3 in their stipulated 12 overs in the game, comprising six players each in a team.
Both India and South Africa lost three wickets each, which cost both the teams 45 runs each.
The pitch, made by Durban-based Phil Russell in the game reserve, turned out to be a good batting track with a short boundary, and a lot of big hits came from the bats of the Indian and South African legends.
Former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar opened the Indian innings with a six to send the message across that he meant business, but the light-hearted conversations and jokes in the middle made for a great atmosphere.
When Kapil Dev was batting and was at the non-strikers end, bowler Peter Kirsten threatened to run him out, trying to take a revenge for his infamous run-out in 1992 in Port Elizabeth one-dayer. In 1992, when Kapil ran Kirsten out while the latter was out of his crease at the non-strikers end, it was under the rules of the game, but his move was criticised by many as they thought it was against the spirit of the game.
While Vengsarkar and Sandeep Patil gave India a good start by putting up 47 runs together, Kapil finished the innings on a high, hitting three fours and two sixes off the last over off Paul Adams.
Adams, on his part, kept the opposition batsmen guessing with his unusual bowling action. In fact, in the very first ball of his over, he caught Vengsarkar completely off-guard.
Vengsarkar admitted that he completely failed to pick up that ball.
"I did not know how to play that ball," he said.
Chasing the target, Paul Adams and Peter Kirsten got off to a great start, followed by Lance Klusener and Andrew Hudson, who not only consolidated the innings but also made sure that the older legends in skipper Mike Procter and Graeme Pollock had less number of runs to score in the end.
The strategy worked out well for the Proteas, and Pollock and Procter managed to pull it off, but not before displaying some gritty shots.
"Pollock, at the age of 67, did so well. It actually gave the glimpses of the class he possesses," said Vengsarkar.
After conquering the Alps in Switzerland, having played cricket at an altitude of 11,333ft on snow two years ago, it was time to hit the jungles in South Africa, and the experience turned out to be an out-of-the-world one for the former Indian and South African players.
Stating that it was one of the most "amazing experiences" to play in the wild, former India captain Kapil Dev said that more than the fact that it is unthinkable to play cricket deep inside a forest, the match sent a message to the world.
"This can be the greatest promotion of sports tourism where one can bring people together and closer," said the 1983 World Cup winning-skipper.
World Cricket Legends is a pioneering sports tourism property, which brings together some of the most celebrated players for an adrenaline-rushing game of cricket, each time in a new destination.
Kapil also said that the exhibition match also gave him and his once-India team-mates an opportunity to catch up and discuss things they couldn't do during their playing years.
"When you stop playing, you come out with stories that you never shared before. Now that nobody is the captain or a senior, we can all come out and say whatever we want to. We are much more open with each other now than we were ever before."
Former South African all-rounder Mike Procter said it was "very special to play against an Indian team comprising of players like Kapil Dev" at such an exotic location.
"This is very special. Peace. Natural ways. It was quite exciting when I heard the idea. It is a challenge to play in the bushes," said Procter.
South African legend Graeme Pollock also added that "the relations between the two countries have always been great and it was nice to catch up with old players."