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India set hard target in key game

India battled back after a difficult start to post 153-5 and set South Africa a testing target in their key World Twenty20 encounter in Durban.

Both sides needed a win to make the semi-finals and the hosts began better in bowler-friendly conditions.

Shaun Pollock took two wickets as the Indians slumped to 61-4 in 11 overs.

But Rohit Sharma (50no) and Mahendra Dhoni (45) swung away and profited from some sloppy fielding to share 85 and leave the Proteas with a tricky task.

India were dealt a blow when Yuvraj Singh, who hit six sixes in an over against England, was ruled out with a forearm injury.

And they were then rocked on a pitch offering inconsistent bounce and movement, reducing the openers to groping outside off-stump early on.

Gautam Gambhir's attempted heave off Pollock ballooned to mid-off, Dinesh Karthik chipped to mid-wicket for a golden duck and it was three wickets in four balls when Virender Sehwag guided Makhaya Ntini behind.

Robin Uthappa carted Johan van der Wath over deep mid-wicket for a big six, but he should have gone in the seamer's next over when a mis-timed pull soared to mid-on where Vernon Philander dropped a sitter.

Sharma thrashed the unlucky van der Wath for successive fours but India were set back again when Uthappa mis-timed another big shot to Graeme Smith at mid-off.

The onus was on Dhoni to provide some fireworks but it was the inexperienced Sharma who swung away to good effect, taking advantage of poor work in the outfield to collect two fours in a row off Ntini.

Dhoni then smacked the ball over an embarrassed Morne Morkel at long-on, while heaves from both batsmen somehow bounced beyond fielders.

India still needed a big finish and they had a big over when the duo hit Morne Morkel for 18, including a massive six over wide long-on from Dhoni as the partnership went past 50.

Sharma smacked Van der Wath in a similar spot for his first maximum before cutting for four more, and when Dhoni smashed Morne Morkel through mid-wicket Smith was becoming agitated.

Dhoni swung another boundary in the final over from Van der Wath before being run out chasing a second but Sharma finished with a big six to reach 50 off the final ball and his team went into the interval much happier than they were an hour before.

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