| Harbhajan Singh who had a fine day in office
Mumbai: Joy was clearly written on captain Rahul Dravidís face when Mohammed Kaif hit the winning run. Dravid took the centrestage, winning the Man of the Match award, to seal the fate of the match and prevent the South Africans from winning their maiden one-day series in India. Indians notched up a comprehensive five-wicket triumph in the Pepsi Cup series at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.
Dravid, who remained unbeaten on 78 off 106 balls, including 10 boundaries, took the responsibility of avenging the 10-wicket mauling at the hands of the Proteas at the Eden last Friday on himself. Mohammed Kaif (16) gave him company till the end. The Indian captain, who looked in ominous form, stayed till the end to ensure an emphatic win, thereby stopping the critics from commenting on Team Indiaís failures.
The new shuffling of the Indian batting order ' sending in Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir to open the innings ' didnít yield results. They made a poor start, losing Gambhir, who substituted Rudra Pratap Singh at the start of the Indian innings. Gambhir was out for nought in only the second over.
Enter Virender Sehwag, who started hitting the Proteas from the word go and quickly raced on to 27 off 20 balls with the help of four boundaries and a six ' off Shaun Pollock.
Sachin and Sehwag carried the momentum through despatching the South Africans to every corner of the park, but that got a jolt when Sehwag was caught plumb in front of the wicket off Pollockís incoming delivery.
Sachin, who looked in prime form, was going well along with captain Dravid. The two shared a fourth wicket stand of 37. When it looked like they would see through to level the series, all of sudden the Wankhede crowd had to sit back silently as Ashwell Prince took a blinder at the point when the maestro tried his favourite cutshot off Andrew Nel. But Sachinís dismissal didnít affect Team Indiaís chances as Yuvraj joined his captain and took charge in the middle. The Punjab left-hander seemed in hostile mood, with Dravid playing the stellar role in controlling the game. Being the captain, Dravid didnít take the slightest risk. Dravid completed his half-century off 78 balls with six fours against his name. Yuvraj, while approaching his fifty, unnecessarily tried to nudge a Nel delivery to the third man, and was caught easily by Boucher. He fell one short of his half-century. But the 49 runs fetched him a share of the Man-of-the-Series award along with South African captain Graeme Smith. Mahendra Singh Dhoni provided full support to his captain and set it up for the Men in Blue to draw level in the five-match series. But Dhoni had to depart owing to the Indiansí habit of fishing outside the off-stump. He was caught by Boucher off Charl Langveldt. Kaif came to the wicket to help Dravid finish off in style. He had no chance of contributing to the victory.
Earlier, put into bat, Jacques Kallis (91) steered the South Africans to 221 for six in the allotted 50 overs, recovering from 77 for three in 20.5 overs. Kallis and Boucher, who made a calm and sensible 35, added 81 for the fourth wicket.
Irfan Pathan rocked the visitors with two early wickets including that of Smith, He finished with three,Harbhajan with two.