India to hot to handle for shocked Proteas
A pumped up India, inspired by a brilliant four-wicket performance from seamer RP Singh, scored a sensational 37-run win over South Africa at Kingsmead on Thursday night to shock a nation.
India booked a World Twenty20 semi against Australia and knocked hosts South Africa out with a 37-run win.
They were reeling on 61-4 but Rohit Sharma (50no) and skipper Mahendra Dhoni (45) shared 84 to help them post 153-5 in bowler-friendly conditions.
RP Singh (4-13) then helped reduce the hosts to 31-5 before Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel both hit 36 to share 69.
But they folded well short of the 126 they needed to progress and New Zealand face Pakistan in the other semi-final.
India's chances of going through 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, which reduced the openers to groping outside off-stump.
Gautam Gambhir's attempted heave off Shaun Pollock ballooned to mid-off, Karthik chipped to mid-wicket for a golden duck and it became 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 was dropped by Vernon Philander before mis-timing another big shot to Graeme Smith at mid-off.
The inexperienced Sharma initially overshadowed his illustrious skipper Dhoni and began the revival by taking advantage of poor work in the outfield to collect two fours in a row off Ntini.
The pair then hit Morne Morkel for 18, including a massive six over wide long-on from Dhoni, as the partnership went past 50.
After Dhoni was run out chasing a second, Sharma finished with a big six to reach 50 off the final ball.
India had the momentum, and they emphasised that in a torrid opening burst from Sree Santh and RP Singh.
Singh swung the ball back into Herschelle Gibbs to trap him plumb lbw with his first ball and skipper Smith flayed at one outside off-stump and was brilliantly caught by Karthik diving high to his left at slip.
Karthik then took over keeping duties from Dhoni, who appeared to have suffered a back problem in the first over, and both were leaping up with joy when Santh trapped AB de Villiers plumb lbw.
Just when things had calmed down, Boucher called Justin Kemp through for a quick single after dabbing the ball out on the off-side and Rohit Sharma brilliantly found the target with the latter short of the crease.
Amazingly, Pollock then played around one that Singh nipped back in next ball and his leg-stump was uprooted for a golden duck.
Morkel cracked Joginder Sharma and Irfan Pathan through the covers, while Boucher worked Harbhajan doosra through the leg-side and deftly guided him past short third man for three fours in a row, as the home side rallied.
The fifty partnership came up off 47 balls - hardly the stuff of Twenty20 - but it was quite clear the Proteas had their sights set on scoring at least 126 even though Morkel hammered Joginder Sharma for a straight six.
However, Santh returned to bowl Boucher off an inside edge and Philander, who had endured a miserable time in the field, was beaten by a flighted Harbhajan doosra to be stumped.
That left the equation 20 off two overs for South Africa to stay in the competition and once RP Singh cleaned up their last hope Albie Morkel, the game was up.
It was asking too much for the last three batsmen to conjure up 17 in the final over and Harbhajan added some gloss to a sensational triumph by having Van der Wath stumped.