Raina Century Blasts India Into ICC WT20 Super Eights
India 186-5 (Raina 101, Yuvraj Singh 37) beat
South Africa 172-5 (Kallis 73, Pathan 2-42) by 14 runs
ICC World Twenty20 Group C, Saint Lucia
Suresh Raina smashed a superb century to set up a 14-run win for India over South Africa which confirmed the 2007 champions' place in the Super Eight stage of the 2010 ICC World Twenty20.
They became the first side to reach the second stage of the competition after they scored 186 for five and then held South Africa to 172 for five in reply in a thrilling game in Saint Lucia.
Missing Gautam Gambhir due to injury, India were forced to field an all-new opening partnership of Dinesh Karthik and Murali Vijay and it was broken after just two balls when Vijay edged Rory Kleinveldt to Mark Boucher without scoring. Karthik made 16 before he was then caught by Graeme Smith off Jacques Kallis as Inda slipped to 32 for two.
Raina and Yuvraj Singh then lauched a counter-attack, the pair hammering 12 fours and seven sixes between them in an explosive third-wicket partnership of 88. Left-hander Raina carried over his stellar form in the Indian Premier League with an array of attacking strokes all around the ground to become the third man to post a century in Twenty20 International cricket and the second this year after Brendon McCullum managed it against Australia.
Yuvraj made 37 in 30 balls before Smith took his second catch and Kleinveldt his second wicket and Raina, whose 101 came from 68 balls, eventually departed shortly after he had reached his century, when he was caught by AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel picked up a wicket. Yusuf Pathan also thumped a quickfire 11 in seven balls and Mahendra Singh Dhoni reprised his finishing knock against Afghanistan with an unbeaten 16 in six balls.
In reply, in-form opener Loots Bosman failed to settle and took 13 balls to score eight runs before he was caught by Piyush Chawla off of Pathan as India turned to spin early to subdue the South African top order, with the result that just one four was scored in the first six overs.
It took the experience of Kallis (73 in 54 balls) and Smith (36 in 28), playing his first full match since injuring a finger in the IPL, to get South Africa back on track and through a combination of big hitting and clever placement they hauled the score up to 118 before Smith was run out by Praveen Kumar's accurate throw from long leg.
Kallis followed one over later when leg-spinner Chawla had him caught by Ravi Jadeja and despite AB de Villiers pummelling 31 in 15 balls and Albie Morkel 12 in seven, they had been left with too much to do, two overs in India's innngs that disappeared for 25 and 19 becoming more and more important as the match went on.
Left-arm seamer Ashish Nerha impressed again by taking one for 27 and closing out the game by bowling the final over while Pathan returned two for 42.
South Africa must now beat Afghanistan on 5th May in their final group game to join India in the Super Eight stage and India will be back in action on 6th May when they play New Zealand or Zimbabwe.
© Cricket World 2010