Thursday, December 26, 2013


Before we move into the second test, let’s quickly recap the first test. Without an element of doubt, a draw result to the first test surprised the entire cricket fraternity. Firstly not many expected South Africa to survive four and half sessions in the second innings on a 4th and 5th day wicket. Even if South Africa survived, not many counted them to go after the leather to chase a target of 458. Let’s say, somebody still counted South Africa to hunt down the target, I’m sure they wouldn’t have anticipated South Africa to shut the shop when the victory was only a hop away. Well, it was an extremely intriguing test match where both side don’t deserve to lose. At the same time, both teams shutting shop in the fear not to lose a test match explains the value of stakes involved. Personally, I've no complaints. I’m very happy to see Cricket emerging winner. I’m happy to see teams, giving utmost importance to a Test victory, rather winning/losing by virtue of impulsive/emotional decision. At the same time, I’m sure Indian fans were disappointed to see India not emerging winner here. Again, every one of Indian supporters would be extremely proud of this inexperienced team’s fighting effort in foreign soil.

On a closer introspection, I thought India shut the shop right after Tea (this time around South Africa scored 300). Indian field was set aggressive though, but the bowlers stopped attacking the stumps and made it batsman’s effort to take chance in order to make runs. Once South Africa went past 400 (with De Villiers & Du Plessis at the crease), India spread the field too. When the game was clearly drifting away from India hands, Ishanth Sharma produced a pivotal breakthrough to bowl out De Villiers and then Shami snapped Duminy quickly bringing India right back into the contest. But then, Du Plessis had planted his foot firm scoring only on the bad balls and allowed Philander to take charge of the proceedings. This left India no choice but to continue defensive play. When South Africa appeared cruising, Rahane produced a brilliant run out to dismiss Du Plessis which became enticing for India to attack. However, India continued defensive play and South Africa joined the party. When both teams stopped trying to win, it visibly hurt the fans. WHAT A TEST MATCH!!! After a very long time, we witnessed an outstanding match, leaving the fans and pundits to ponder the results and play.

On the blame game, I don’t find a better scape goat than Ashwin. If Ashwin had chipped in with few wickets (particularly in the 2nd innings) providing the much needed support to the seam bowlers, India would be leading the series 1-0 now. Again, I’m not taking any credits away from South African batsman for the way they batted in the second innings. But then, Ashwin’s failure with the ball reminds the story of the past. At England, Bhajji failed to provide that support/breakthroughs, similarly Ashwin failed at Australia.

After an absorbing Test, the series appears to be evenly poised. In my series preview, I predicted South Africa to win this series 1-0. Now, I strongly retract my statement.

As the toss took place at Durban, yet again India delivered the first punch. India opted to bat first (after all, everyone knows how famous Durban is for producing lively tracks).  And then India dropped Ashwin in place of Jadeja. That conveyed two things. Firstly, Ashwin failed to deliver as a bowler at Wanderers for which he pays the price. Knowing how critical Ashwin’s batting could be lower down the order (especially with an inexperienced lineup), Dhoni still decided to leave him out. This shows the amount of faith the Captain has on the young crop of batsman. India’s definitely got it right. At the same, the rest of the batsman must have got the message that their place is not a guarantee. After all, Ashwin is as good as any of those specialist batsmen (in my books).

Back to the test match, Durban hardly lived up to its reputation. This is an even slower wicket than Wanderers. This must be pleasant surprise for the Indian camp. Now, it is very obvious that South Africans are terrified of the defeat. They don’t want a lively wicket to hurt their course and possibly spoil the party of Kallis retirement too. Between, who expected Kallis retirement coming?

With slightly favorable batting conditions than the first test, Vijay made most of the opportunity with his undefeated 91 at the close of first day's play. Pujara looked solid as ever. And then Steyn, delivering barrage of short pitched stuff to force the umpires to call off play (sighting poor light) was the most engrossing period of play. India once again emerged winner during that period of play. 

Bottomline: South African’s are petrified. Dhoni is in charge. Great days ahead of Indian Cricket!!!

Cricket Lover

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...