India slump to huge defeat

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> South Africa handed India their fourth biggest defeat on home soil on the third day of the second Test on Saturday.

Updated: April 15, 2008 12:25 IST
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Against popular theory and in somewhat helpful conditions, South Africa completed an important and comprehensive Test win over India in Ahmedabad.

From start to finish, except for a while when Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni held fort, South Africa dominated the match, winning it by an innings and 90 runs, taking an unbeatable 1-0 lead to the final game in Kanpur.

India could complain about poor umpiring but the truth is they were ordinary, and not a patch on the side that had competed fiercely with Australia. Their batting was abysmal on Day 1, their bowling would have never threatened a Test side, and at times their fielding was a throwback to the previous generation.

The hosts needed a miracle to bail them out of the massive 418-run deficit. South Africa began Saturday with a declaration on their overnight score of 494-7, and with three days left in the game, there was only result in sight.

Virender Sehwag threatened to throw South Africa's plans off track for half an hour. He began the innings in some style, thumping Dale Steyn for two sixes in the first over. One disappeared over wide long leg, another over square leg.

It was all flash and no go. Makhaya Ntini successfully appealed for an LBW against Sehwag, Rahul Dravid continued to disappoint, and Wasim Jaffer poked around till one edge flew to slip.

First through VVS Laxman fluent 35, and then through Ganguly's 87, there was some entertainment for India's supporters. Ganguly's was one of his classier Test innings, but from the first ball there sadly was no context to it. Much before Dhoni played another poor shot to slip's hand to end his innings of 52, the only point of interest in the game was if India will take the Test into the fourth day or not.

Steyn, Ntini took three wickets apiece. Between those two and Morne Morkel, South Africa took 18 of India's wickets in the game - raising fresh questions about India's ability to play pace.

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