Mon, Jan 01, 2007 - Page 18 News List

India suffer defeat against South Africa

REVENGE South Africa bounced back from defeat in the first Test in Johannesburg to level the series in Durban, answering their vocal critics in the best possible way

AFP , DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa bowler Makhaya Ntini, left, celebrates with his captain Graeme Smith, right, after winning the second cricket Test match against India at Kingsmead stadium in Durban, South Africa, on Saturday. Ntini was named Man of the Match.

PHOTO: AP

India captain Rahul Dravid said he believed his team could compete with South Africa despite a 174-run defeat on the fifth day of the second Test at Kingsmead on Saturday.

Dravid admitted he was disappointed that his team were bowled out for 179 after most of the morning's play was lost to bad light. South Africa fast bowler Makhaya Ntini took five for 48.

But Dravid said he was confident about his team's prospects in the series-deciding third Test starting tomorow in Cape Town.

"We would like to come back and fight really hard," he said. "The good thing is that we only have a couple of days between this and the next Test match. There's not really much time to think or brood over it."

"We've got to pick ourselves up. We've been competitive with them for long periods in this series. We've won a Test match and we're close to them. It's just a case of maintaining that performance and trying to do a bit better than today," he said.

Dravid said India's batting in the first innings, when they conceded an 88-run lead, had been a big setback.

"If you go behind in these conditions it's not easy, especially if you bat last," he said. "We could have played a lot better in the first innings, especially on the third morning when we lost a few wickets in quick succession."

South Africa captain Graeme Smith said it had been one of the best Test wins of his career, following harsh criticism of the team's performance after they lost the first Test in Johannesburg by 123 runs.

"We were honest with ourselves and that really helps in turning things around," he said. "Every guy put up their hands. We had some good chats in Durban and in the five days we showed a lot of character."

He singled out Ntini's bowling in the final innings after the fast bowler had struggled to find his best form in the first Test.

"I know Makky's been searching for a few things. It's the hallmark of a really good cricketer that when your team needs, you stand up. He did that today and he was backed up by the rest of the guys," Smith said.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni provided a lone highlight in a poor Indian batting display. He made 47 before he was eighth man out, caught behind in the last over before tea after adding 59 for the eighth wicket with Zaheer Khan.

After only 4.3 overs of play were possible before lunch, the sun came out in the afternoon to give South Africa the opportunity to hit back after the first Test loss.

There were still some anxious moments for South Africa before victory was sealed, however, as the light started to fade after tea. The umpires checked their light meters before the last two wickets fell in the space of three balls after tea.

India limped to 47 for four at lunch after Ntini dismissed both overnight batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Jaffer.

India, resuming on 38 for two, lost Tendulkar to the fifth delivery of the day. Ntini produced a virtually unplayable ball that cut back sharply and kept low to trap India's star batsman leg before for zero.

Jaffer followed nine balls later when he played an injudicious pull shot that looped gently to Andre Nel at mid-on. He made 28.

V.V.S. Laxman and Sourav Ganguly kept the South Africans at bay after lunch, putting on 38 for the fifth wicket.

At that stage India were 85 for six. Dhoni and Anil Kumble resisted for 41 minutes. Andrew Hall, the fifth bowler to be used, made a breakthrough with his first ball when Kumble fended a lifting ball to Hashim Amla at short leg.

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