What can I say? Before the test series started with South Africa, after the drubbing in the one day series, people were talking of 3-0 whitewash. Instead, the Indians ended up winning the first test quite convincingly. 1-0 with a chance to wrap up the series in Durban. Who would have thought?
What ended up happening is that the Indians could not believe that they could win. There were a few moments in the Durban test where if the screw was tightened, India could have actually pressed for a win. In the end, they were in a position to draw out the match by batting on the last day for about 60-70 overs. They did not. The series ended up being 1-1 instead of 1-0 or better 2-0.
The last test saw the pitch tailor-made for the Indians. As Jaffer said after his ton, the pitch was very “Indian” in nature. Then what happened? Kumble could not run through the batting on the fifth day as everyone expected and Sachin came on too late to cause any concern. But more importantly, the Indians could not bat well enough to win the match – 210 was 40-50 too short a target to put up a decent fight.
South Africa won 2-1 after going down 0-1. That’s all credit to them for sticking to their tasks and executing better than the Indians. But the Indian batsmen need to seriously understand the meaning of partnerships, test match cricket, positivity and the will to stay on the pitch in order to be world beaters.
Sehwag had a terrible tour and he should get back to the drawing board quickly and fix his flaws otherwise he may have a tough time holding on to his place. Dravid uncharacteristically had a bad series and Sachin I think was the man responsible for the sad slowdown in the Indian second innings in the last test which ultimately caused the score to be too low in the end.
On the other hand, Ganguly had a great comeback and I think he is now back for good. VVS had his moments too, and the brightest moment must be Dinesh Karthick who was introduced into the XI in the last match because Dhoni was injured. Not only that, he was made to open the innings and he performed creditably.
Sreesanth, putting his antics aside, is the new face of Indian cricket, which does not believe that going on an away tour means there would be no wins. Zaheer came back lean and fit and did an awesome job in all the matches. Kumble probably had a less than great tour but on South African pitches his role would just be to contain the batters and continue to maintain pressure at one end.
And finally, that Munaf episode with his being declared fit and in fact being very obviously unfit, is not going to die so soon. Let’s see how the board handles it and how he handles it.