There are plenty of ways to lose a cricket match, and by far the most depressing is the defeat caused by complete and utter panic among the batsmen.
South Africa were well on top in this game. They restricted India to a paltry 190 all out, bowling them all out with 16 balls left in their innings. So great was the Protean control that only Yuvraj Singh was allowed to pass 50, and only last man Munaf Patel was able to score at more than a run a ball (and he only made four).
Lonwabo Tsotsobe was superb for South Africa, picking up four wickets for only 22 runs off his full allotment of 10 overs. They were not just any old four wickets, either, but those of noted experts in this form of the game—Yuvraj, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina and Indian captain MS Dhoni.
For a long time, Tsotsobe has appeared to be the weak link in the South African attack, an attitude which is understandable if you consider that the alternatives are usually Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, arguably the best new ball pairing in any form of cricket in the world; bowling alongside them in limited overs cricket always makes you vulnerable to attack.
Today, given the new ball in place of Morkel, Tsotsobe reigned supreme and was supported by the rest of the attack. South Africa went into the innings break confident of taking a 2-0 lead in this five game series.
They were even more confident when skipper Graeme Smith blasted his way to 77, and took the total to 152-4 off only 32 overs. 39 runs needed, 18 overs to get them in and six wickets left? It should have been a cakewalk for the home side.
Then Smith was bowled, dragging a ball from Patel onto his stumps. The panic set in and those remaining six wickets fell in barely ten overs. There was some decent bowling from the Indians, but the bigger problem was that some of the batting was reprehensibly irresponsible.
Steyn was run out trying to take a risky single, Morkel was caught try to slog the winning runs and Wayne Parnell cut to point with just one run needed. Nothing says more about the South African attitude than the run out of Steyn; when you lose by one run with 42 balls left, anyone getting run out should have nowhere to hide.
Patel finished with four wickets of his own and the man of the match award, but the real award should have been a large bottle for the South African side. With the series tied at 1-1 the balance of power is now firmly with India and they will look to take a series lead in the next game, which is on Tuesday in Cape Town.
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