Friday, January 7, 2011

The Battle for No. 2

India finally managed to escape undefeated from South Africa. The 3rd day was a nervy one. India did not try to score the 341 runs (not likely on a 5th day pitch against Steyn, Morkel & Harris) while South Africa could only take out 3 wickets. The end might have been quite anti-climatic given the build up but in the end a 1-1 result was an apt one. There are quite a few people angry at India not trying for the chase but I am sure they would have been the first ones to call our batsmen irresponsible, useless etc if they had perished while going for shots.
The series did provide some great cricket from the masters. Jacques Kallis got his 1st double century, then scored 2 in the 3rd while suffering from a side strain. Sachin Tendulkar's 50th & 51st centuries. Steyn's sustained hostile bowling. VVS Laxman's 96 at Durban. Sreesanth's extra-ordinary deliveries to Kallis, de Villiers & Prince. Dravid's 200th catch. Gambhir's 5th day 50 in Newlands. Quite a memoried packed into a 3 Test series.
India retained their No. 1 ranking by a huge margin. Hopefully there will be less questioning of this status now. However India does have to find a back up for Zaheer. His sheer presence changes the team's bowling outlook. And when he is not there then we see what happened in Centurion.
In the end all I can say is that this wasn't a battle for No.1. After all India had a chance to take it when South Africa were 130/6. And South Africa then blew it by not declaring on the 4th day itself. As both teams opted for safety first in the end, it truly was a Battle for the No. 2 spot.
I can't help but feel that India blew a great chance for victory. Firstly no warm-up match (Contrast this with the Ashes where England played 3 first class matches before the Tests began). Then some muddled selection. Jaidev Unadkat was preferred over Abhimanyu Mithun. Unadkat looks too raw to be playing Test cricket. He hasn't even played a full season of Ranji Trophy as yet. While Mithun must be wondering what wrong he had done in the 3 tests in Sri Lanka to be dropped from the squad.

Now time to switch over to some mindless limited over action to occupy the time till the world cup.

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