Magic man Peterson breaks SA’s chokehold

Robin Peterson hit a six and two fours in the final over to power South Africa to a stunning three-wicket victory over host nation India in Nagpur today.

The win took the Proteas to third position in Group B to ensure a place for them in the ICC World Cup quarterfinal.

The win coming at the back of a six-run defeat to England six days ago, fortifies South Africa’s hopes of claiming their first World Cup title and eventually ridding them of the ugly chokers tag.

South Africa slowed India’s charge towards the World Cup quarterfinals yesterday, grabbing the last nine wickets for 29 runs after the home-side looked set for a massive total.

Seeking the win that would take them into the last eight, India were cruising at 267-1 with powerful batting to come before their dramatic collapse, sparked by paceman Dale Steyn who took 5-50.

Batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar earlier dominated the Proteas’ attack, cracking three sixes and eight fours in a 101-ball 111 for his 48th one-day hundred.

He now needs just one more century to become the first player to score 100 international hundreds, having already made 51 in Test cricket.

India made the most of winning the toss on an easy-paced Nagpur pitch as Virender Sehwag (73) and Tendulkar provided an explosive 142-run start off just 17.4 overs but the only other score of note was from Gautam Gambhir (69).

Steyn, who conceded 24 in his opening three overs, came back strongly to make short work of the Indian innings, which finished on 296 all out, in a superb exhibition of fast bowling.

Coming into the match, the host nation topped Group B with seven points from four matches while South Africa had four points from three games and were desperate to hit back after a confidence-sapping defeat to England.

Meanwhile, England captain Andrew Strauss defended Graeme Swann after the spinner flew into a rage over the damp playing conditions during Friday’s shock World Cup defeat to Bangladesh.

Swann was furious that the night-time humidity at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium produced dew that made it difficult for bowlers to grip the ball.

On Saturday, the International Cricket Council fined Swann 10% of his match fee for breaching the game’s code of conduct.

Strauss defended Swann’s on-field swearing, which forced one television commentator to apologise on air for the language used.

“Graeme felt he had a big role to play in the game. It was frustrating for him, and all of us, that the ball got as wet as it did. I told Graeme to calm down and get on with it – and he did do so.”

An unbeaten ninth-wicket stand of 58 between Mohammad Mahmudullah and Shafiul Islam helped the Tigers snatch an improbable two-wicket win over England in Chittagong.

The win for the joint hosts, which kept their flickering World Cup hopes alive, sparked scenes of wild celebration in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan urged his teammates not to let the opportunity slip.

“Beating England has opened the way for us and we must take advantage of that,” Shakib said.

“We now have a very good chance to make the quarterfinals. We must focus on our two games. We don’t want to go out of the tournament early.”

Ahead of their game with World Cup whipping boys Kenya on Sunday, Australia captain Ricky Ponting has promised the champions will field their strongest available side, with a likely starting place for Michael Hussey.

Experienced left-handed batsman Hussey was handed a World Cup lifeline when he was called up as a replacement for injured fast bowler Doug Bollinger.

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