NAGPUR, March 12 (PTI): India paid a heavy price for a stunning batting collapse as South Africa held their nerves to pull off a thrilling three-wicket victory in a World Cup Group B encounter here today.
Sachin Tendulkar�s blistering 111 went in vain as India suffered an inexplicable batting collapse by losing nine wickets for a mere 29 runs to fold up for 296 in 48.4 overs after electing to bat.
The South Africans overcame some anxious moments before rattling up the target with two balls to spare at the VCA Stadium at Jamtha.
The Proteas needed 13 runs off paceman Ashish Nehra�s last over but tailender Robin Peterson swung the game in their favour by hitting a four and a six in the first two balls to take his team home in a pulsating game which saw fortunes fluctuating from one team to the other till the last over.
Peterson took two from the third ball of the last over before hitting the winning runs � a boundary � to take South Africa to 300 for seven in 49.4 overs as the packed stadium was stunned to pin drop silence.
For India, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh took three for 53 from his nine overs while paceman Munaf Patel got two wickets for 65 from his 10 overs.
With the win today, South Africa have brightened their chances of making to the quarterfinals with six points from four matches and the two remaining matches coming up against Bangladesh and Associate nation Ireland.
Despite the loss, India, who are virtually in the quarterfinals before today�s match, still top Group B with seven points from five matches. They play West Indies in Chennai on March 20 in their last league match.
The bulk of blame for India�s loss should be taken by the batsmen as they undid all the hardwork done by Tendulkar (111 from 101 balls) as they were comfortably placed at 267 for one in the 40th over.
Starting the run chase, South African openers Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla began on a cautious note as they added 41 runs before Zaheer Khan dismissed his �bunny�. It was not a good delivery as it was pitched wide but the South African captain went for a drive and was holed out to Tendulkar at mid-off.
In-form Amla, in company of Jacques Kallis (69 off 88 balls), then carried on in a business-like manner. They ran the singles well pushing it into the gaps and punished the occasional loose balls. Kallis was the dominant of the two in their 85-run second wicket stand.
Amla, who looked solid during his innings of 72-ball 61, was dismissed when Harbhajan got one to bounce and turn enough to kiss the edge and Mahendra Singh Dhoni took the catch gleefully.
Sehwag b du Plessis 73
Tendulkar c Duminy b Morkel 111
Gambhir c Kallis b Steyn 69
Pathan c Smith b Steyn 0
Yuvraj c Botha b Kallis 12
Dhoni not out 12
Kohli c and b Peterson 1
Harbhajan b Steyn 3
Zaheer c Morkel b Peterson 0
Nehra c Smith b Steyn 0
Patel b Steyn 0
Extras (LB-2, W-12, NB-1) 15
Total (all out in 48.4 overs) 296
Fall of wickets: 1-142, 2-267, 3-268, 4-268, 5-283, 6-286, 7-293, 8-294, 9-296.
Bowling: Steyn 9.4-0-50-5, Morkel 7-0-59-1, Kallis 8-0-43-1, Peterson 9-0-52-2, Duminy 3-0-29-0, J Botha 9-0-39-0, Plessis 3-0-22-1.
G Smith c Tendulkar b Khan 16
H Amla c Dhoni b H Singh 61
J Kallis run out 69
AB de Villiers c Kohli b H Singh 52
JP Duminy st Dhoni b H Singh 23
F du Plessis not out 25
M van Wyk lbw b Patel 5
J Botha c sub (S Raina)b Patel 23
R Peterson not out 18
Extras: (LB-7, W-1) 8
Total (For 7 wickets in 49.4 overs) 300
Fall of wickets: 1-41, 2-127, 3-173, 4-223,
5-238, 6-247, 7-279.
Bowling: Z Khan 10-0-43-1, A Nehra 8.4-0-65-0, M Patel 10-0-65-2, Y Pathan 4-0-20-0, Yuvraj Singh 8-0-47-0, Harbhajan Singh 9-0-53-3.