India registered a remarkable 8-wicket victory against South Africa with two days to spare which helped win some pride back in the third and final test of the series at Green Park, Kanpur on Sunday, April 13, 2008. Dominating the proceedings from the very first day, India made it sure that the series is leveled 1-1 with their sole win. It was a comprehensive team effort which saw India raise its benchmark ever higher to outdo a determined side like South Africa, making it more of a forgettable experience for the visitors. A bouncing and turning track, of course, had its role to play in the scheme of things and is supposed to have affected the outcome of the game to a certain extent.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat but did not exactly got off to a flyer and lost the wicket of McKenzie early in the day. Smith and Amla were quick enough to compensate for the lapse and kept the scoreboard ticking with intelligent strike rotation and picking every loose delivery that came their way. By the time Smith succumbed to the spin of Yuvraj, South Africa looked well-settled as the scorecard read 152 runs for the loss of 2 wickets. Soon, however, a sharper bowling attack penetrated deep into the South African batting line up and after the fall of Amla, only De Villiers and Boucher could make some useful contribution with their cameos. The side was finally bundled out at the score of 265 runs in 87.3 overs which summed up the day for South Africans.
After delivering the goodies with their bowling effort, India started off confidently with Jaffer and Sehwag in the driver's seat but soon the side was reduced to the score of 35 runs for the loss of 2 wickets. From here on, Laxman and Dravid took charge of the situation and developed a steady partnership to help India see off the danger of midway collapse. After the duo fell, Dhoni and Yuvraj continued the run-feast and contributed 32 runs apiece with their willows. When it seemed like Indians were done with, Sreesanth and Ishant provided the last wall of resistance to help India end the day with 288 runs for the loss of 9 wickets.
The day began with Sreesanth and Ishant on the crease playing out some magnificent shots to take India past the 300-mark to keep alive the competition. Soon, South Africa was scraping off a thin Indian lead of 60 runs and perhaps adopted an all-too complacent approach towards the game which made them pay dearly in the form of crucial wickets. An inspired Indian attack, on the other hand, sensed blood after successfully wiping out creme de la creme of South African batting in the form of McKenzie, Smith and Amla, and went ahead to claim one success after another in quick succession. Unbelievable as it may sound for an undaunted side like South Africa, after Kallis no one entered double digits except for Prince who provided the last piece of resistance from South Africa. The likes of De Villiers and Boucher had to depart without leaving any impression with the bat even as Kallis, too, was not able to make any contribution worthy of note. India was already in celebration mood by the time South Africa was bundled out for a paltry cricket score of 121 runs in 55.5 overs. This left India merely 62 runs away from a fabulous victory with two days still to go in the game, but to all intents, India was looking to reach there as fast as might have been possible. Starting off well, India still could not help losing their openers to the determination and accuracy of South African bowlers, who, perhaps wanted to go down with their heads held high. As cricketing gods might have ordained, despite facing a good level of resistance, India reached its target in merely 13.1 overs with Dravid and Ganguly doing honors on the crease. Even for a drawn series, the tournament culminated with a fitting climax, which saw the host side making its way back in the game with a new-found zest and vigor To top the cake with a cherry, Sourav Ganguly was selected Player of the Match for his contribution with the bat while Harbhajan Singh was chosen Player of the Series for his consistent performance with the ball.
Last Updated on 24 August 2012