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Monday, December 7, 2015

Cricket: India Sweep Freedom Series Tests 3-0 Deserving The Delhi Test Win, South African Spin-Resistance Comes Too Late!

India beat South Africa by 337 runs to sweep the Freedom Test Series 3-0 and lift the Paytm Freedom Trophy today in Delhi. This is Team India’s most deserving win of the Freedom Series Test cricket as the Delhi pitch has behaved the way it has been all these years giving equal opportunities to pacers, spinners and even batsmen. It is a big relief that the pitch has not been converted into a rank turner like in Mohali and Nagpur earlier. The Delhi test has gone into the last session of the fifth and final day and the team that played best has won. From the third day onwards the pitch became slower and slower making run-making difficult and at the same time not yielding the lethal cracks for the bowlers.

The Indian victory largely comes on the back of the player of the match Ajinkya Rahane who scored two magnificent back to back centuries with good contributions Virat Kohli who finally came into form and accurate bowling from both the spinners and fast bowlers. Ironically, Rahane is the player always living on the brink with possibilities of not being considered at all or being rested or being dropped. This is despite his consistency in batting, his selection as the Indian captain in the absence of star cricketers recently and his magnanimous temperament. This is an irony because the Indian superstars never face the axe in spite of repeated failures with the bat and some even get selected for no reason like Rohit Sharma. The ‘realities’ of Indian cricket are too strong to be obliterated quickly.

Spin-mania seems to have totally demoralized the South African team not allowing them even to consider batting well on okay pitches. Their bowlers—both fast and spin—did quite well  to contain India to 334 runs in the first innings after the home team decided to bat first winning the toss. The Proteas should have understood that it was a good batting track offering help to bowlers and not posing any threat of cracking up. The fear psychosis drove them to fold up for 121 in just about 40 overs. They seem to have learnt the hard spin-lesson rather too late as they tried to resist, block  and delay the spin-fall taking 143 overs to make 143 runs in the second innings chasing a mammoth target of 481 set by India.  Most of their top batsmen including a miserable-looking Amla and deVilliers played almost absurd number of balls to make their paltry contributions. On the other hand spin-driven India read the pitch quite well refusing to make South Africa follow-on after taking 213-run lead in the first innings. Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma—two pacers included in the team this time—were used sufficiently with the former proving to be very effective. Spinner Ashwin took his 15th five-wicket haul. Till tea break today the South African resistance continued to frustrate India, but after the break it was a dramatic collapse with five wickets falling in a heap. The Scorecard:


If India do possess sporting pitches like the Firoz Shah Kotla in Delhi why don’t they come out of the spin-compelled mentality for ‘enforced’ wins and allow the home team to grow and compete all over the globe?  
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