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Friday, November 25, 2005 

India hammered

Kolkata - 4th ODI:
India 188 (45.5 ov)
South Africa 189/0 (35.5 ov) . Scorecard.

A green pitch in Kolkata (which has conspiracy theorists rubbing hands in glee) and a lost toss meant India were up against it in conditions that resembled Durban more than Kolkata. Dravid mentioned that he had never seen so much grass in Kolkata, and Smith had a smile throughout and said it was like a home match for them! Of course, the fact that the crowd in Eden Gardens seemed to cheer SA more than India (thanks to Ganguly's absence from the team) would have further strengthened Smith's belief. This is a shameful but very real phenomenon in sport - I remember a match in the Windies where the crowd refused to turn up because their local hero Cummins was not chosen. It has also happened in Bangalore where Ganguly was booed when India were playing Pakistan, and happens often in football in the UK.

However, that is no excuse for the batting collapse. Dileep Premachandran analyses Pollock's performance in these conditions, which contributed heavily to India's low total. Only Yuvraj and Kaif got going, but no one played through the innings, and therefore paid the price. Smith really came out blazing, and his hunger to win really showed. When a batsman scores 134 n.o. chasing 189, you know he was possessed and in terrific form. Only Bhajji bowled well inspite of the dew, but no wickets fell in the rout.

India have to all to do in Mumbai - no one knows how the pitch in Mumbai will play, but South Africa can be pardoned for thinking Christmas has come a month early. Two perfectly suited pitches for their strengths, and a rain-off in spinning Chennai means that they have a real chance to win the series for the first time in India. Meanwhile, India's cricketing politics may have once again made India's chances difficult on the field.

Do the crows boo their own national team (in the UK) when they are playing another country ?


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