Cricket: South Africa stretching India

South Africa is stretching India, while India could have lost all the matches in this series and it would not have mattered, chief spoilers Sehwag, Gamhir and Tendulkar are nursing injuries back home, Praveen Kumar who just swings it enough, to keep his team in fray. Zaheer looking good. India seem to be winning crucial moments in tight situations.

A let down and a ray of hope.

Ishant woefully out of form, Sreesanth does all things well including bowling; Rohit Sharma will wait to show off his exploits in IPL. Sharma is ensuring he has the fame and glory but never fulfilment. It seems a mental thing for him, I was surprised he being sent to South Africa as Sehwag's substitution. He had just screwed up Mumbai chances hence returned a ticket to world cup. It is kind a sad, I guess he would feel the pinch as well, but I guess lives should move on.

Graeme Smith and Zaheer Khan

Marriages are made in heaven, so are Nemesis. Zaheer Khan devours taking left handed openers out soon, he has marked and pocket many a prize wickets. Zaheer has two more games to completely tie down Graeme Smith. There is a similarity between Dhoni and Smith, its apart from the fact that these two guys lead there respective teams, Smith batting technique is as rustic and agrarian as Dhoni but I guess what suits the best, both are power hitters and muscle the bowl unlike Kallis or Dravid (touch players). But Zaheer had Graeme Smith spell bound, he was just hopping to see Zaheer off. He did succeed, but got out to Bhajji playing an innocuous sweep, no doubt, Smith would have felt sheepish and innocuous when he was walking off.

Bowling deserves the due.

There have always been question marks over Indian bowling especially in the end overs of an innings, Paki bowlers are the best, but Indian bowers languish. I guess all teams fancy scoring 70 to 80 runs in the last ten and since the advent of another power play, people fancy a lot more. But it wasn’t to be this time, Zaheer and Munaf bowled to there fields, some inept batting from Duminy triggered a collapse and last six runs were out adding only 20 runs to the score, power play was wasted. Indian part time bowlers Yuvraj & Co did well too, keep the scoring restricted and not allowing any freebies.

Catch it!

Indian fielding is the perfect barometer of teams morale and hunger, Indians came up with brilliant catches, Zaheer ran and cupped one off Devillers to provide a crucial break through, it was a super athletic effort, something which would add a spring to fielders step. Kohli also plucked a couple of catches and made it look easy, couple of run outs meant that SAfs could never reach a score in excess of 240 to 250. This game saw some tidy bowling with supple and sharp fielding, batting, well since the spoilers were not there, guess we can do better in batting.

Indian batting springs no surprises.

Murali Vijay needs to score. He was caught of a brilliant return catch by Steyn. A couple of batsmen did the hard thing, got start but Morne Morkle seems to be a tall order to fight. He belongs to tall fast bowlers, Garner, Ambrose and all but I guess Morkel offer much more pace, haven’t seem Ambrose bowling a lot bowling in excess of 147 clicks. Steyn with his swing and Morkle with his bounce at top speeds do make for a killer combo. I don’t seem any pair of fast bowlers coming close to them. Tsotsobe, is improving with every game, he looked good, lack a bit of luck. Morkle came on and put the brakes on, as Indian middle order seems to be crumbling. It is weird to see Yuvraj struggling for timing. He should have done better, Sharma flattered to deceive, probably not for the last time. Raina and Pathan got going. Indians wanted to win that what they conveyed.

Pathan the thunder storm.

He gets on the pitch and blows the bowlers away, three sixes off Botha. The towering sixes changed the complexion of the game, it was the point of inflection for me. It started with Pathan clearing the front leg, thrashing Botha three sixes in the single over, and ended with Bhajji hitting Morkel much like a tennis player hitting a powerful groundstroke down the line. Pathan was outsmarted by Steyn when he got Pathan caught out at third man, it was a brilliant catch. But another cameo by Zaheer and some riding the luck moments of Bhajji saw Indian get through as winner in consecutive tight matches. I think it is no ordinary feat. Bowlers repaid captains faith. I am sure everyone in the Indian cricket team will cherish a nice break before battle cry for world cup gains voice boxes.

Indians lead the series 2-1 with two more games to be played this weekend.

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