Cricket: India undermined by Donald

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INDIA'S beleaguered cricket captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, emerged from a frustrating lean patch to stroke a defiant half-century on the first day of the third Test against South Africa at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, yesterday.

South Africa's bowling spearhead, Allan Donald, took a Test- best four for 50 and Brian McMillan three for 41. Donald, whose first spell was 7-5-6-0, cut through the Indian top order in his next two stints, after lunch and tea.

Azharuddin's 11th Test fifty silenced critics who wanted him sacked for the upcoming series against England after he scored 59 runs in seven previous first-class innings on the tour. But the captain's lone hand was not enough to keep the Indian innings afloat.

India would have been in worse trouble had the wicketkeeper Dave Richardson not spilled a catch when Azharuddin edged Donald after lunch. Azharuddin, then on eight, hit seven boundaries during his 89-ball stay at the wicket before falling to a disputed catch at the wicket off Donald soon after tea. Television replays showed the ball passed between Azharuddin's raised bat and chest, and the batsman appeared surprised when the English umpire David Shepherd ruled him out.

The Indian manager Amrit Mathur said Azharuddin's dismissal 'was part of the game', but slammed the other batsmen. 'The wicket looked good enough for a 300-plus score, but we messed it up,' he said.

(South Africa won toss)

INDIA - First Innings

R J Shastri c Henry b McMillan10

W V Raman c Richardson b Donald21

S V Manjrekar c Henry b McMillan23

S R Tendulkar c Richardson b Donald6

* M A Azharuddin c Richardson b Donald60

P K Amre c McMillan b Donald11

Kapil Dev c Kirsten b McMillan12

M Prabhakar c McMillan b Matthews11

K S More not out15

A R Kumble not out5

Extras (lb12 nb7 w4)23

Total (for 8)197

Fall: 1-43 2-49 3-59 4-98 5-143 6-152 7-160 8-185.

To bat: V Raju.

Bowling: Donald 24-10-50-4; Schultz 18-4-30-0; McMillan 21-9-41-3; Matthews 17-7-34-1; Henry 11-2-30-0.

SOUTH AFRICA: * K C Wessels, A C Hudson, P N Kirsten, J N Rhodes, W J Cronje, B M McMillan, D J Richardson, O Henry, C Matthews, A A Donald, B N Schultz.

Umpires: D Shepherd (Eng); R Koertzen and W Diedericks (SA).