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Thursday , January 20 , 2011
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For the rock stars, it is only juice and popcorn
- Parthiv likely to replace Vijay in fourth One-dayer

Cape Town: “India rocks” was a common enough sentiment across Newlands on Tuesday night, after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men scripted another close win.

Comeback man Yusuf Pathan, who lashed a 50-ball 59 (6x4, 3x6), to turn the third ODI on its head, was adjudged the MoM. He’s a game-changer.

Exactly 21 months ago, Pathan had made headlines here by taking the Kolkata Knight Riders (his new franchise, by the way) to the cleaners in the IPL’s first Super Over. Obviously, he’s quite fond of Newlands.

If South Africa couldn’t chase in Johannesburg, this time they couldn’t defend. Clearly, they have serious issues to address, one being the overdependence on Jacques Kallis.

Kallis, injured during the last Test of the series, is still in the rehab stage. He’s in the World Cup squad, though.

Up 2-1, India have reasons to be pleased, but the batsmen haven’t been firing. Not that any concern came through when the team returned to the serene Southern Sun Cullinan, around midnight.

No champagne was laid out, but the hotel had arranged for a popcorn vending machine and grape juice. Rarely, if ever, has popcorn been more sought after at such a late hour!

Achcha game raha... We did well,” one of the heroes, Harbhajan Singh, told The Telegraph, seeming to enjoy the popcorn as much as the South Africa attack.

Indeed, his sixes off Wayne Parnell and Morne Morkel won’t be forgotten in a hurry. They were, like some outstanding catches, defining moments in the match.

Ashish Nehra, who also kept his nerve at the end, was content with the grape juice.

Dhoni looked relaxed, satisfied with a job well done. When a well-wisher congratulated him, he grinned and touched the nearest piece of wood.

Superstition, after all.

Meanwhile, it’s quite likely that Parthiv Patel will open in the next ODI, in Port Elizabeth, on Friday. Murali Vijay, out of form, is set to be dropped.

[Dhoni and Co. reached Port Elizabeth late on Wednesday.]

Barring Kallis, whose place has gone to Albie Morkel, South Africa’s World Cup squad is going to be on view in the last two matches.

To win the series, the hosts will have to be at the top of their game in the remaining ODIs.

Footnote: South Africa’s chief selector, Andrew Hudson, has conceded that the Graeme Smiths haven’t been doing well when it mattered the most. “We’ve been playing 70 per cent of the matches well, not the last 30 per cent.”

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