Ahmedabad, Apr 5 : India suffered a humiliating defeat against South Africa as they went down by an innings and 90 run in the Ahmedabad Test.
Sourav Ganguly batted for four hours for a fine 87 as India's misadventure at the Motera Stadium ended with ugly scars that may take a while to heal.
South Africa swept to a thoroughly deserved innings-and-90-run victory inside three days and cannot now lose a series.
Ganguly added 110 with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and 55 with VVS Laxman, exhibiting all the determination and poise that had been conspicuously absent in India's abject first innings.
But once Dale Steyn, wicketless until then, returned to tempt him into a drive from round the wicket, the match was only ever going to have one outcome.
His dismissal completely changed the course of a final session that had started encouragingly for the home side, with Ganguly playing some delicate cuts off Paul Harris and a beautiful straight push off Morne Morkel.
Every South African bowler tested Ganguly with the short ball, but he suffered his most anxious moments against the deliveries that slanted across him. A beautiful square-drive off Morkel and a crisp off-drive off Steyn saw him find his range, and Dhoni's arrival allowed the strike to tick over steadily.
With innings defeat looming large, the only hope Indians have is to see off the remainder of Day 3 without losing any wickets and hope for the Weather Gods to intervene.
India's fate was sealed in a morning session where they lost both Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid. With rain falling heavily the previous evening, Smith had declared on the overnight total of 494 for 7.
Needing 418 just to make South Africa bat again, the Indian innings had the most bizarre start. Steyn strove for express pace, and Sehwag responded with two stunning strokes, a swivel-pull and a clip off the pads, both of which sailed over the rope for sixes.
But after surviving an excellent leg-before shout from Ntini, Sehwag's luck ran out. The second time Ntini thudded one into the pad, umpire Hill raised the finger.
Dravid, best equipped to deal with the conditions, came in and got going with a lovely flick for four off Ntini, but Wasim Jaffer was having a torrid time at the other end.
A beautiful cover drive soon after lifted the spirits somewhat, and when Jacques Kallis replaced Ntini, Jaffer greeted him with an emphatic pull for four. The partnership was worth 33 when Morkel struck with a delivery that climbed steeply up at Dravid. He tried to drop the ball to feet, but couldn't quite get on top of it, and AB de Villiers neatly caught the edge at third slip.
Jaffer followed in similar fashion, caught on the crease and squared up by a Kallis delivery that angled in, and it was left to Ganguly and Laxman to try and salvage a modicum of pride.
Laxman played some magnificent drives down the ground and tucking the ball off his pads with time to spare. Soon after lunch, though, Smith replaced Steyn with Morkel, and after Laxman had caressed two fours, the breakthrough arrived.
Laxman's 35 had taken just 45 balls, but India needed so much more.
The last man to be dismissed was S Sreesanth, who was cleaned up by Makhaya Ntini. The home team now trail 0-1 in the series with just one more game to go at Kanpur.
Story first published: Saturday, April 5, 2008, 19:15 [IST]
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