India came back from behind to square series one each. I am still to be convinced of two test and four test and six Odis. I think Odis should be restricted to maximum of three, included more test. I mean would it have mattered to BCCI in terms of revenue if this were to be only a test series? But then seldom what BCCI does has anything to do with something called as rationale.
Storm in the tea cup
Greame Smith was the only joy for first couple of sessions. SAfs won the toss and elected to bat. It was a conscious decision to bat first in order to avoid facing the spinning ball on the last day. Alviro Petersen made a century on debut. He was doing pretty good and not only rose to the occasion, but did very well, obviously helped by what look a wayward Ishant especially in first innings. A big partnership between Amla and Alviro saw them cruising and made Indian bowlers look like someone without plan and imagination. There was a storm to come in the session following tea.
I guess when Indians went back they sensed a storm in the tea cup. The whole scenario changed when Bhajji wrecked the SAfs batting line up and sweet memories of 2001 the Eden test flickered in front of many a cricket fans. In the hindsight that very test marked in some subtle ways how India team went to become a very professional, albeit a touch inconsistent but good test team. The balance is in favour of batsman but bench strength seems good but untested.
The buzz of the match changed soon after tea and out of nowhere things start to happen as if sequence of events waited for a hint of the trigger. One wicket let to another and what seemed like a picture perfect scenario in the second session looked so ominous, Kallis, Devilliers, Duminy, Prince along with Petersen and Amla came and went what seemed innocuous deliveries and unthought-of shots. The shots were inexplicable needless to say unwarranted and before the dust settled and sunset, eight wickets had fallen and India came out of back jail. Zaheer, Ishant, Misra and forget me not Bhajji claimed wickets and shared to onus. The cake was baked and the dressing was about to be added.
Sustained batting effort
Indians sustained the pressure. SAfs assisted the Indian batting effort, but bowling little less the good and fielding as worst as any you would imagine from SAfs. It was by far the worst fielding display I have seen from SAfs in quiet some time. Sehwag kept on smashing them all over. There is a method to his madness. See ball hit ball. His style is so simplistic on the lines of being almost minimalistic, but one of the more profound batsmen of his time if not in the history. His numbers say it all. He is for sure the corner stone of batting and other rally around him. Yes, he does keep you n the edge of the seat and will always give the other side a chance, yes he may make you want to pull your hair but when he does hammer scores those score are big loud and brash.
Tendulkar on the while seems to be batting like a Zen master, its almost serene, through out his innings; you could see the glimpses of various phases of Tendulkar through out his illustrious career. You could almost sense him holding fort and then come out with a brilliant stroke that would just steal your breath away. But the bowl he got out to deserves praise for Harris. He deserved it. Tendulkar smacked fourth century in as many matches. His tally is know like 47 test centuries and opened a considerable gap of eight centuries in test versus Ponting.
Laxman and Dhoni then prolonged the agony of foes as they built up a considerable partnership, each getting to their hundred meanwhile Laxman was the stabilising factor and gave support, Dhoni kept nibbling away. Laxman and Dhoni scored not out centuries and closing the door on SAfs.
Second time up hill
After tea on first SAfs seemed just very pedestrian, although this time they did get starts. I am leg side Smith always up for LBW didn’t have to face Zaheer's menace was claimed LBW by Mishra what looked a plumb decision. Kallis got ball of the series from an Indian bowler. Kallis must be proud to get on that delivery and Mishra would sing the swan song of this delivery even to his grandchildren. It pitched middle middle-off ripped across Kallis’s bat took the edge and Dhoni made on mistake. Badrinath added something to the scorecard and audiences memories when he kept the nerve to catch Petersen what ended up as a simple catch. Prince played an ordinary shot Devilliers foxed by a googly, Duminy beaten for pace, some moments of uneasiness for Indian audiences came when Harris and Parnell and Morkel stitched some useful partnerships Ishant bowled a line and length which bemused everyone except the batsmen he was wayward and looked distraught at missed catches. Fielding was quiet ordinary by Indians as well. There were so many missed catches. In the end before the close of play Bhajji claimed the honours and also the end wicket to help India square the series. It is so sad there were only two matches.
The focus on shifts to ODIs. I am hooting for Gibbs, Bootsman & Co while the Kohli and Raina need to redefine there role and a certain Yusuf Pathan needs to dish out some hearty performance. Tendulkar would want to hit a century in at least one of the ODIs.