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Cricinfo: India in South Africa 2006-07

South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 4th day


Prince ploughs a lonely furrow

The Test series was billed as the contest between South Africa's pace-heavy attack against India's brittle batting line-up. However, much to everyone's surprise, the events over the last four days witnessed a complete reversal of expectations. In a line-up with stars like Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs, only one player, Ashwell Prince, looked at ease in both innings while the rest capitulated.

His 24 in the first innings was the top-score in South Africa's sorry total of 84. In the second, he fell painfully short of recording a ton, gutsing it out even as the procession to the pavilion continued, and putting a price on his wicket. He resumed on 54, with Mark Boucher for company but Boucher's early fall dented South Africa further. With Shaun Pollock playing his strokes, Prince kept his cool at the other end, and the pair looked to pull off a minor miracle.

His first boundary of the day was off Zaheer Khan, a streaky one though, past the slips. But the bowler he was particularly harsh on was VRV Singh, with neatly timed strokes all round the park. He picked up two successive boundaries on the off-side off Singh, one through the covers and the other blasted past point. Singh was in for some more punishment, as he leaked three consecutive boundaries in one over, as Prince began to look positively dangerous. The first was down to third man, the second punished to square leg and the third, neatly driven past the covers.

His only false stroke was a top edge off Singh, which was fortunately off a no ball. It required the most experienced of the Indian bowlers - Anil Kumble - to end his resistance, bowled through the gate while attempting a drive on the off side. A tame dismissal in the end, but full credit to the way he gritted it out with little or no support from the other end. Kallis aside, India will need a proper gameplan against Prince in the remaining games.



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