Africa-XI clinch thrilling victory

Centurion, August 17:

The African XI pulled off a two-run victory on Wednesday at Centurion Park to win the first of three one-day internationals against Asian XI. Dale Steyn of South Africa bowled Ashish Nehra of India with the first ball of the 49th over to finish Asia’s run chase.

Asia-XI started well with openers Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and Virender Sehwag of India putting on 50 runs for the first wicket. Sehwag was the first to go for 21 runs, while Sangakkara scored 35 runs. Pakistan’s Abdul Razzaq top-scored in the innings with 38, but failed to save the match for the Asians.

Earlier, pace bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Zaheer Khan helped bowl out an African XI for 198. Khan took 3-37, dismissing three of the top four batsmen, and Shoaib 2-40 as the African team fell in 44.3 overs. Opener AB de Villiers played and missed several times before his 24 was ended by Shoaib and only the contributions of two of the 10 South Africans — Ashwell Prince (78) and Mark Boucher (42) — rallied the side from 57 for five.

Prince and Boucher shared a sixth-wicket stand of 84 before Boucher’s fall prompted a final collapse. The last five wickets fell for 57 runs. Ashish Nehra, Anil Kumble, Muttiah Muralitharan and Shahid Afridi each took a wicket, while the run out of Dewald Steyn by Nehra rounded off the innings.

Scores — Africa: 198 (Ashwell Prince 78 not out, Mark Boucher 42; Zaheer Khan 3-37), Asia: 196 (Abdul Razzaq 38; Shaun Pollock 3-32, Jacques Kallis 3-40).