SA thrash India in first Test

NAGPUR: South Africa thumped India by an innings and six runs despite a fighting century by Sachin Tendulkar on the fourth day of the first Test to go 1-0 up in the two-match series here at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium today.

Fast bowler Dale Steyn (3-57) and left-arm spinner Paul Harris (3-76) shared six wickets to bowl out India for 319 in their follow-on. Harris picked the key wickets of Tendulkar (100) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who suffered his first Test defeat as captain since taking charge in 2008.

It was India's third defeat by an innings margin at home since 2000, all of those coming against South Africa. The South Africans now need to just draw the second and final Test beginning in Kolkata on February 14 to reclaim their top ranking from India.

The emphatic win was set up by Hashim Amla (253) and Jacques Kallis (173) who helped South Africa post an imposing 558-6 declared before Steyn picked a career-best 7-51 to bowl out India for 233 in their first knock.

Steyn finished with 10-108 while Amla was named man of the match. "It has been an outstanding performance from the guys," said South African skipper Graeme Smith. "To win in India, you need lots of discipline and the guys have showed it.

India's lone resistance in the second innings came from Tendulkar, who smashed 13 fours in his 179-ball knock on the way to his 46th Test century. Tendulkar, who hit two successive centuries during India's 2-0 away Test win against Bangladesh, defied the South African attack for close to four and a half hours before being dismissed in a bizarre fashion.

Tendulkar tried to sweep Harris but the ball bounced off his body, hit the elbow and fell on to the stumps. He watched the ball in disbelief before trudging back to the pavilion.

The batting ace shared 72 runs for the third wicket with Murali Vijay (32) and another 70 runs with Dhoni, who was caught at silly point after staying for 144 minutes at the wicket.

"We were completely outplayed," said Dhoni. "Kallis and Amla batted brilliantly. Steyn, the way he bowled, he was the best I have seen of him in the last two years.

Resuming at 66-2 after being made to follow on, the hosts lost overnight batsman Vijay inside the first hour of play. Debutant Subramaniam Badrinath (six) edged Parnell to Mark Boucher. After the dismissal of Dhoni (25) in the post-lunch session, Harbhajan Singh hit a run-a-ball 39 with six fours and a six to provide some cheer to Indian fans before curtains were drawn on the innings.