Sourav Ganguly and Dilhara Fernando come good for the winner
Chennai: Dilhara Fernando prised open the Africa XI batting line-up with four wickets after Sourav Ganguly's knock of 88 on a dream batting track had powered Asia XI to 337 for seven in the second match of the Afro-Asia Cup cricket series at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Saturday.
It was a comprehensive 31-run win in the end and Mahela Jayawardene's men sealed the three-match series 2-0.
Boeta Dippenaar and Mark Boucher crafted fifties. Dippenaar was especially commanding early on and helped temporarily negate Fernando. The Sri Lankan pacer had thrown Vusi Sibanda off balance with a bouncer and then got him out next ball with a quick short-pitched delivery. Two balls later, he cleaned up captain Justin Kemp.
Such is the nature of these matches that the atmosphere can easily coagulate in lethargy. Boucher and Pollock kept the asking run-rate within reason with a quick partnership of 58 but once Fernando had got the wicketkeeper in the first over of his second spell, the resistance was reduced to isolated skirmishes.
Earlier after winning the toss, Asia's plan was to score as heavily as possible and it was clear from the start that Africa, severely lacking in bowling stars and further cramped by Shaun Pollock's decision not to bowl, did not have the resources to stem the flow.
No need then, for a nuanced, multi-paced approach to the innings; every top-order batsman save Sanath Jayasuriya got a start and three of them managed quick fifties. In contrast to Asia's sharp catching, the Africans dropped as many as they took. Virender Sehwag, Ganguly and Jayawardene all benefited from sloppiness.
The scores: Asia XI: V. Sehwag c M. Morkel b Chigumbura 52, S. Jayasuriya c Dippenaar b Odoyo 11, S. Ganguly c P. Ongondo (sub) b Chigumbura 88, M.S. Dhoni b A. Morkel 33, M. Jayawardene (run out) 45, M. Yousuf c Boucher b M. Morkel 51, Yuvraj (not out) 30, M. Rafique c De Villiers b M. Morkel 1, Zaheer (not out) 0, Extras (lb-8, nb-4, w-14): 26; Total (for seven wkts. in 50 overs): 337.
PP 1: 1-10: 68 for one; PP 2: 11-15: 94 for two; PP 3: 25-29: 180 for three.
Fall of wickets: 1-37, 2-77, 3-134, 4-214, 5-298, 6-331, 7-333.
Africa XI bowling: A. Morkel 6-0-49-1, M. Morkel 10-1-48-2, Odoyo 8-0-60-1, Chigumbura 10-0-84-2, Botha 10-1-51-0, Sibanda 6-1-37-0.
Africa XI: AB. De Villers c Dhoni b Asif 13, V. Sibanda c Dhoni b Fernando 35, B. Dippenaar c Harbhajan (sub) b Yuvraj 67, J. Kemp b Fernando 0, M. Boucher c Asif b Fernando 73, S. Pollock c Asif b Sehwag 35, A. Morkel c Ganguly b Rafique 13, E. Chigumbura c Harbhajan (sub) b Rafique 7, J. Botha b Fernando 13, T. Odoyo (not out) 12, M. Morkel b M. Asif 25, Extras (lb-4, nb-1, w-8): 13; Total (in 49.5 overs): 306.
PP 1: 1-10: 64 for one; PP 2: 11-15: 96 for three; PP 3: 16-20: 122 for three.
Fall of wickets: 1-20, 2-80, 3-80, 4-159, 5-217, 6-234, 7-247, 8-263, 9-263.
Asia XI bowling: Asif 9.5-0-82-2, Zaheer 2.4-0-9-0, Jayawardene 2.2-0-19-0, Fernando 10-0-36-4, Rafique 10-0-62-2, Yuvraj 7-0-43-1, Ganguly 3-0-14-0, Sehwag 5-0-37-1.