VVS Laxman with his MOM trophy
The second Test at Durban ended with India triumphant, levelling the series 1-1.
A few takeaways from a thrilling encounter:
VVS Laxman is very, very special. He has proved that before and did so anew. What can be said about the Hyderabadi maestro that has not been said before? Dealing in mere superlatives seems trite given the backdrop of his recent achievements. Suffice to say, that he was man-of-the-match (MOM), top-scoring in both innings, the only player to score over 50 from both sides.
Zaheer Khan is the bowling captain of the Indian side. His very presence lifted the bowling effort from pedestrian to malevolent with deadly intent. Six wickets on his return does not relate the entire story. Much needed support to Laxman in the second innings meant Zak had a hand to play with both bat and ball. Comeback player of the series, so far.
Cheteshwar Pujara replaced Suresh Raina in the team. He may not have scored heavily but exhibited none of the propensity towards an upward trajectory (in his footwork), unlike his predecessor. The victory ensures that he will retain his place in the side. Can he cement it?
Harbhajan Singh was the stand-out bowler for India in both innings. His six wickets proved crucial. He sealed one end, never letting the pressure on the South African batsmen ease. Bhajji is keen indeed.
Sreesanth struck a few blows in the second innings getting rid of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis. He is a much improved bowler after his stint with Warwickshire under the tutelage of Allan Donald. Can he continue in the same vein? South Africa is a happy hunting ground for the Kerala seamer.
Dravid gobbled up his 200th catch of his Test career, a superb reflexive catch at first slip. The ultimate team-player added another milestone to his glittering career. His 200 dismissals is the highest amongst non-wicketkeepers. He holds the best aggregate amongst Indians pipping Syed Kirmani by two dismissals. Will we see another like him?
Teamwork made up for individual failures. The bowling was backed up with brilliant fielding. This Indian team does not lack fighting spirit. They are slow off the block, though.
Clive Rice believed that the Proteas were lucky to win the toss and the first match in the series. Perhaps, it would have been a different story if Dhoni had won the toss at the Centurion. But if wishes were airplanes, we would all fly.
For South Africa, Dale Steyn continued to be the remarkable performer. With match figures of eight for 110, the pace bowler showed why he’s considered the best in the business. Tsotsobe had an astounding game; he may have snared just five victims but when four of the five are Sachin Tendulkar,Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni, the wickets are worth their weight in gold.
South Africa had decent partnerships at the top of the order in both innings, 23 in the first and 63 in the second. But once the skipper succumbed, it was an endless procession of willow wielders from the pavilion and back.
Jacques Kallis, the other second innings specialist, was undone by a snorter from a roaring Sreesanth in his second essay. The repeated batting failures and the lack of a quality spinner will be worries for Graeme Smith.
The Proteas will have to come back hard and strong to clinch the series at Cape Town. The momentum is with the tourists. Can the home side steal it back? The Aussies and the Poms have bandied momentum between each other—like no one’s business—in the Ashes down under. Should we expect more of the same in South Africa?
|History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.|