India’s poor performance under Coach Greg Chappell continued and this time they lost to a Rest of South Africa team in their warm-up One Dayer at Benoni. Rahul Dravid’s men failed to chase a target of 256 to be bowled out for 218. The skipper batted well though for his 79 but was no way enough to lead his side to a victory. South Africa’s upcoming fast bowling sensation Dale Steyn ripped through the Indians taking a magnificent five-wicket haul.
The homeside led by Ashwell Prince had won the toss and elected to bat first at the Willowmoore Park. The Indian bowling was strengthened with the inclusion of Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble while Harbhajan Singh had to sit out. Wasim Jaffer was in the playing line up which gives the indication that he could be playing in the One Day Internationals as well, also out of the side was Virender Sehwag.
The tourists were off to a good start with the new ball as they had Rest of South Africa bogged down due to early inroads. However a late recovery courtesy of a 96-run stand for the 7th wicket between Jacques Rudolph (72) and Albie Morkel (57) took their side to 255 for 8 in the allotted 50 Overs. Rudolph had smashed his runs in just 53 balls with the help of 7 fours and 2 sixes. Morkel was also destructive as he hit three sixes along with 5 fours. The bowling from India wasn’t that good enough as they had the batting side struggling at 116 for 6, yet they couldn’t get their act together to bowl them out under 200! The comeback bowlers – Zaheer Khan with figures of 3 for 43 and Anil Kumble with 2 for 31 in their 10 overs did a respectable job.
In reply, India were hit back by the pace of Dale Steyn which saw the two openers – Tendulkar and Jaffer depart in the 4th over itself. Mohammad Kaif played a snail paced innings at no.3 along with his Skipper Dravid. Kaif for all the time he took in the middle could score just 30 having faced 55 balls which got the required run rate to shoot up! Three quick wickets including that of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s meant India were down and out at 82 for 6! An 84-run partnership followed between Dravid (79 from 99 balls with 3x4s and 3x6s) and Pathan (34) but the task of getting too many runs in just few deliveries got the better of Dravid and it was the end of India in the final over as they crashed to a 37-run defeat in the hands of a second string side. Dale Steyn finished up with 5 for 22 in 10 overs, a truly match winning figures.