Long before the Indian cricket team landed in South Africa, there were murmurs of India get thrashed 3-0. Corrie Van Zyl, coach of South Africa had warned about them targeting India with green, bouncy tops. Steyn and co were ready to bounce India out at every moment. Graeme Smith and AB De Villiers had openly challenged India saying that their number 1 ranking would have no meaning if they failed to win the series in South Africa. All this was compounded by the fact that India had one just one match ever in South Africa let alone win or draw a series.
But as Laxman and Tendulkar left Cape Town today, India can surely say that they leave South Africa with their chins up. After the ultimate smashing they received in Centurion when they were shot for 136 which Dhoni later described as the perennial Indian habit of losing the first test of a series, the no 1 team was upto the task. From Zaheer’s comeback performance in the 2nd test to Bhajji’s return to taking wickets to finally Sreesanth’s spectacular spelling of bowling on the 4th day finally showed that this Indian team was not like any of the ones before. Sreesanth’s rip snorter to remove Kallis in the 2nd test was probably the best ball of 2010 and became the image of the series.
Laxman with his 96 in the 2nd test, Tendulkar’s batting throughout the series including his 51st century, Dhoni’s counter attacking 90 in the first game, Gambhir’s 62 to save the 3rd test – the Indian batting did do pretty well especially after collapsing for just 136 in the first match. SRT’s 51st century while facing Dale Steyn bowl one of the most menacing fast bowling spells ever seen since Malcom Marshall was one of the highlights of the series.
The fact that the top 5 wicket takers and batsman each have 2 Indians and 3 South Africans shows how keenly the series was contested. From sledging to on – field performances, the competitiveness and aggression of the contest was evident. It was a fantastic advertisement for test cricket. The only black spot was Sehwag’s failure as he managed to score just 144 runs in 6 innings.
There are some people who would say that India was conservative in going for a draw today should know that chasing 340 on the final day is a very difficult task. Since India couldn’t manage to get through the tail and Kallis yesterday, they had no other option than to close up shop and play for the draw today.
MS Dhoni’s unbeaten streak continues! He is yet to lose a test series as captain!