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Test Cricket: South Africa Delivers One More Overseas Drubbing For India!
New look or old
look, new wine or old wine, old bottle or new bottle—whatever way you tend to
look at Team India it has been historically proven that India never had answers
to sheer fast bowling on green and bouncy tracks overseas. Indian batsmen from times
immemorial get bogged down and bat tentatively when faced with fiery spells of
pace bowling. That India
have never won a single Test Series in Australia
and in South Africa
in its entire cricketing history is something the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI)
must not go on ignoring. A few wins here and there have been aberrations rather
than being real. BCCI must veer away from its money-oriented policy of
preparing ‘commercial’ dry tracks for one-day cricket, and spinning, often
unplayable, tracks for Tests. It is not being cynical when we comment that
Indian batsmen are kings at home and Indian spinners create wicket-taking
records on pitches tailor made for them. While South African or other country
fast bowlers generate bowling speed in excess of 150+ km per hour Indian ‘pace’
bowlers struggle to get to even 140. This is only natural because they do not
have pace-friendly tracks at home where they play most of their cricket.
AB de Villers And F du Plessis
Even then, the
‘new look’ Team India dominated four days of the fantastic first cricket Test against South Africa in Johannesburg and got themselves into an immensely
winnable position at stumps on the fourth day. Set a stiff target of 458 runs
for victory in about one and half days South Africa were 138 for 2 at
just needed to mop up 8 wickets on the last day for a morale boosting victory
after 2-0 drubbing in the ODI Series (3rd ODI was abandoned due to rains). A
tremendous batting display by South
Africa not only saved the Test but gave them
a real chance to make history successfully chasing the highest ever target in
the last innings. A brilliant double-century partnership between F du Plessis
and AB de Villiers put India
fully on the defensive and the hero-at-home Indian spinner R Ashwin went
wicket-less on the fifth day whereas he is used to get it all over in three or
four days back home. South
Africa needed just 16 runs in the last 3
overs, but they started defending after losing the 7th wicket in the
form of du Plessis run out in the previous over and with Morkel unfit to bat.
Nobody wanted to go one down in the BCCI-style two-Test Series and in the final
analysis no team deserved to lose. However, Team India missed a great opportunity to
go one up. The India
cricket Board must learn from this that Test cricket is not gone yet, but can
get you absorbed for five full days. Make way for exciting Tests at home too.
There was a
similar situation in the Second Test in Durban at stumps on the fourth day when
India were 68 for 2 and needed to bat out the full fifth day to draw the
Series. But fiery spells of genuine fast bowling from Dale Steyn (total of 9
wickets in the match) and Philander paved the way for a meek Indian surrender
like in so many overseas occasions. Their spinner Peterson too captured 4
scalps against a team supposed to be masters of spin. South Africa won by 10 wickets thus winning the Series 1-0. One more zero-margin drubbing
on foreign soil. Leadership tactics and batting of the Indian captain MS Dhoni overseas are also matters that need lot of probing attention.
Kallis Goodby in Style
memorable part of the Durban Test was Jacques Kallis who suddenly announced his
retirement from Test cricket after the Johannesburg
match. The second Test was his last and what a fantastic way to say goodbye to
cricket. Coming in a crucial juncture in the first innings the greatest
all-rounder of modern cricket stayed put and crafted his 45th Test
century thus contributing immensely for his team’s win. Exit of Jacques Kallis
would put a lot of pressure on South Africa
just about to face Australia.
This year India have several overseas cricket tours
starting with New Zealand
later this month. It is up to them and the BCCI to try change history.