It's pleasing to start tour with a good knock: Sharma

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Rohit Sharma is happy to start the South African tour by shaping India's win over the hosts in the one-off Twenty20 international.

Updated: January 09, 2011 17:17 IST
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Rohit Sharma is happy to start the South African tour by shaping India's win over the hosts in the one-off Twenty20 international and sees the upcoming ODI series as an opportunity to cement his place in the side.

Sharma (53) hit a sparkling fifty to guide his side to a good total of 168 for six and was adjudged Man-of-the-Match for his effort.

Sharma, who represents Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy, was yesterday bought by IPL side Mumbai Indians for a staggering sum of USD two million.

When asked if the mind-boggling contract was the inspiration behind the cracking half-century today he said,

"Not really. It was important to start on good note. It will be a challenging tournament. It is a very good opportunity (for cementing a place in ODI team)."

The young batsman said his familiarity with the conditions in South Africa helped him score calmly on Sunday.

"I have played here in T20 World Cup and in IPL and went accordingly. The wicket was on a slower and lower side and it was not easy to play shots. My plan was to rotate strike," he said.

Cricket South Africa today honoured its fast bowler Makhya Ntini, who played his swansong international game, and Indian icon Sachin Tendulkar for his outstanding and ongoing contribution to the growth of the game worldwide.

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was pleased with the win and acknowledged the role of part time bowlers in the victory.

"Rohit batted well, the kind of start we needed. The score of 160-170 was good one here. The big advantage was the part-time bowlers. They become specialists in T20s. Spinners took advantage (of helpful pitch)," he said.

Talking about playing in a football stadium, Dhoni said, "It is a special field designed for soccer. It was difficult for outfielders. But it was a good game."

Losing skipper Johan Botha also admitted India bowlers titled the match in visitors favour.

"They got off to a good start and India bowled well. When Morne (van Wyk) was going we thought we had a chance but we kept getting behind after that. We can't expect number eight and nine to get those runs."

It was special occasion for Ntini and Tendulkar as their contribution to the game was acknowledged by Cricket South Africa.

Ntini was given a bowling-machine for his academy and a memento.

"These were lovely 12 years. I thank everyone who supported me. I appreciate my wife, children, my mom who came as support.

"And you Indian guys, Sachin.. it was privilege to play this game with you."

Tendulkar also returned Ntini's compliment during his felicitation.

"I thank CSA for this gesture. I am truly humbled. Makhya is a great champion. Terrific bowler. Till last ball you did not let me relax but now I can that you have retired."

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