Peterson does it for SA in thriller

Nagpur, India – Tail-ender Robin Peterson broke Indian hearts by blasting 16 runs off the final over to hand South Africa a thrilling three-wicket win over the co-hosts in the World Cup on Saturday.

Chasing 297 and needing 13 off the last six balls, Peterson (18 not out) hoisted a six and hit two fours to edge the Proteas to victory with two balls left – silencing a passionate home crowd. The result took South Africa to third spot in Group B behind India and West Indies.

Sachin Tendulkar had set up an enthralling Group B encounter with a sparkling 111, his 99th international century. That, along with 73 from Virender Sehwag, left India in great shape at 267-1 but their remaining nine wickets incredibly crashed for 29 runs to leave them 296 all out.

In response, South Africa were always adrift of the required run rate although Jacques Kallis (69), Hashim Amla (61) and AB de Villiers (52) kept them in with a chance until Peterson's late cameo made sure they did not choke with the finishing line in sight.

“I’m extremely ecstatic at the moment. To have a great game with so many great innings was such a good advert for the World Cup,” said a jubilant Peterson.

While Peterson’s late fireworks had his team mates leaping out of their seats and exchanging high-fives in the South African dressing room, India were left to rue their missed chances as they could have sealed their place in the last eight with victory on Saturday.

The hosts not only paid the price for losing their wickets in a heap but Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's gamble to throw the ball to pace bowler Ashish Nehra for the final over spectacularly backfired.

“Ashish was the only choice. He was bowling well and I thought it’s better to go with the seamer. You can say I was wrong maybe but I thought that the seamer could do the job for us” said Dhoni, who could have asked Harbhajan Singh to bowl.

Earlier Tendulkar and Sehwag added a 142-run opening stand but Tendulkar’s exit in the 40th over triggered a collapse and India, who looked set to go past 350 at one stage, were all out in 48.4 overs.

India completely lost their way as wickets fell like ninepins to a stunned silence at the VCA Stadium, with pacer Dale Steyn, who went for 24 off his first three overs, causing the most damage to end with a five-wicket haul for 50 runs.

Tendulkar and Sehwag added 87 in the mandatory powerplay of 10 overs – the tournament’s best so far – and India were 128 for no loss at the end of 15 overs before South Africa had even realised what hit them.

After Sehwag departed in the 18th over, Tendulkar continued to his record sixth World Cup century and made batting look ridiculously easy with an almost chanceless innings, consisting of eight fours and three sixes.

However, just four hours later it was Man-of-the-Match Steyn and his team-mates who were celebrating a memorable win.