South African cruised to a very comprehensive innings victory against under prepared India. This match will be remember more for Tendulkar 50the hundred rather than South African victory, another Tendulkar century in vain and when all seemed lost. I had thought a lot worst and was pretty convinced that India would loose by at least innings and 150 runs. Tendulkar has other plans, Indians lost crucial wicket at indifferent times ib the second innings, Sehwag, Laxman and Raina were out when least expected.
All was lost in a day. 136 all out
Indian came into the test match without a practice match, Zaheer lost the race to fitness, Sehwag got out for a duck. All bad omens one may say. The most telling of these omens was no practice match, long time back between 97 and 99 seasons India toured Zimbabwe for a test match, they didn’t have a practice match and we lost there as well. A lesson not learnt or learnt the hard way. This time we weren’t touring Zimbabwe we are touring a place where we haven’t done all that well, the combined average of our top four bats is 36. They are the main threats to our number one position. It would be a great boost for us as a cricket team if we play SAfs with more conviction. Wasn’t to be. The question if we had survived that dreaded first session hold little value. A practice match would have done a lot of good things. The preparation would have been better, Zaheer fitness would be no mystery, there would be match sense, playing a test match would have been a fine tune rather than a crude shock.
India selection was a bit bemusing, I thought Yadav who bowls in 140s would have made the cut, but then there would have been something more about Undakant that I don’t know. Raina now has 84 runs in his last 8 innings; if he deserves a place in the side he must be demoted. Dhoni, who has more conviction and common sense, should come ahead of Raina. Bhajji has done little with his bowling efforts and should be dropped. SAfs have, Petersen, DeVilliers, Amla and Kalis, all right handers and have a liking for Bhajji’s off spin and would continue to hoick him over mid wicket. Ojha, spinning it away from the bat becomes a more threatening option. Laxman would want to think about hitting across the line not before he is over 150 runs. Dravid seemed unlucky with bad bounce. But we can expect a better fight in the next match considering most batsman spend decent time at the crease.
It is something SAf batsmen capitalize on. I am also wondering how pitch changed its nature. The second question then is if the pitch really changed its nature at all. Did Indian batsman come with poor mindset, weather already had played a spoil sport.
Kallis - A big match player.
Kallis has scored big runs and taken big wickets, last genuine breed of now nearly extinct species of cricketers called all rounders,more than 250 wickets more runs than any other SAf hundred catches but still finds himself a bit of a loner. He out weighs much of SAf team by his performances, this time around, SAf were in hunt for this massive lead. Kallis looked good especially against a very ordinary Indian bowling. He wanted a big one, he did get a massive double hundred. I think if you match the team player for player, Tendulkar is matched by Kallis, his bowling on seeming bouncing pitches is an asset.
DeVillers just hammered it all over and ensure that Indians would bat for a longer time then would like, they had to bat out seven sessions, but since we lost the plot before the first evening itself, result was just a matter of time. When the SAfs declared there was only one result possible, pending Indian defeat.
The difference is in the bowling.
If you look beyond Steyn and Morkel there isn’t much that South Africa has to threaten a batting side. The problem is Steyn and Morkel are so damn good. I mean they would easily cream couple of wickets every time they bowl together. India I thought would come out with a very conservative way to just weather the storm and pick runs when Steyn and Morkel have been tired out. The casualness of Indians has invited this defeat. South Africa must meanwhile look for a bowler who can complement Morkel and Steyn, there can be no easy reprieve if Steyn or Morkel has a bad day.
But it is tough challenge for our batsman to negate Steyn and Morkel let alone tie both of them and score of other bowlers. They claimed 14 wickets in between them in the whole game, Ishant claimed two of the four wickets. Bhajji claimed the other two& two is the number of maiden overs he bowled in his marathon like 36 overs that leaked runs close five runs an over. Bhajji is a different kinda off spinner, who relishes on variable bounce and whizz of the wicket, unlike conventional off spinner, Randiv and Swann who invite the batmen forward with the loop and flight. Bhajji needs to look at Mendis and R Ashwin and other off spinner going around. Bhajji Pa invite them to drive, speed and bounce and spin will all come into play.
Sachin the man keeps them churning on and on
There have been many a child prodigies, some withered away, some never made it, some self consumed. Sachin Tendulkar I think is the only child prodigy after Mozart to fulfil (and exceed) the God gifted promises. The person who goes past him or even close to him will be the only one who would know what immense pressure, scrutiny, glamour and hype. Indian cricket has had a rich history but the rich treasure and coffers of BCCI have grown in Sachin’s Era. I am not sure if it is just coincidence. Actually, it is too true for being coincidence.
There have been many a great batsmen, there would be some more. All of them put together would have not lived in as much scrutiny, praise adulations and criticisms as Tendulkar, certainly not many bought as much smiles to millions. Personally for me he remains a super achiever on the field and supreme achiever off it. It is this intense and unrelenting electron microscope like life that he has lived makes it more special. It is not easy what he has done on the field, records are meant to be broken, Sachin records too may be broken someday. There are things that we do and then there is a way we do them. Sachin keeps us all glued to the game. Every time he has risen and every time his form has waned his humility increased, he got more dignified. He remains in the headlines for right reasons. I wonder if they would retire the No.10 jersey. He deserves a Bharat Ratna,if doesn’t who does?
Back to the game.
We were out played and out smarted.Raina deserves a demotion if not a drop from the eleven, Dhoni must come ahead of Raina no mater what the situation of the game, I think it would have been a bit different had Dhoni come up the order before Raina and the may have had a similar partnership with Tendulkar. It would have changed the complexion of the game. Bhajji needs to bag lick a dozen wickets every time,don’t think he is a stupendous form,Bhajji the batsmen will be of little consequence, Okjha, Yadav should be in, Zaheer would be definitely come in. I don’t think there would be so many changes. At this point in t ime 1-1 seems a long way away. But second innings batting by Indians give me lot of hope and is something positive to be taken at the end of this game.