South Africa-India: Yusuf Pathan's Heroics in Vain As Proteas Take Series

Richard O'HaganCorrespondent IIJanuary 23, 2011

Yusuf Pathan blasts another boundary
Yusuf Pathan blasts another boundaryGallo Images/Getty Images

If there were any justice in the world, a batsman scoring a century off only 68 balls would always, always, end up on the winning team. Unfortunately, cricket is a capricious mistress and justice is not her strong point. Yusuf Pathan came extremely close to taking India to a first one day series win in South Africa, but the truth was that his teammates had neither batted nor bowled well enough to deserve victory.

Yusuf came to the crease with India 5-60 and wobbling like Samit Patel on a balance ball. At that point only one man had made double figures, and that man was Parthiv Patel, one of the worst batsmen to ever open the innings in an international game. 5-60 swiftly became 6-76 as Suresh Raina perished to a shot which almost looked as if it was aimed at the man on the third man boundary. When Harbhajan Singh fell with the score on 97 it looked as if only one man in the entire stadium believed that India could still win.

At this point Yusuf took matters into his own hands and began smiting the ball to all corners of the ground. He lost Piyush Chawla with the score on 118, but found a handy ally in Zaheer Khan. Zaheer enjoyed a reprieve early on when he was recalled after being given out off what turned out to be a Morne Morkel no-ball and he sensibly ensured that Yusuf saw most of the strike. Yusuf hit eight fours and eight sixes in his innings and it was only his dismissal for 105, with the score on 219, that finally put the game out of India's reach.

Yusuf's innings overshadowed both Hashim Amla carrying his bat for 118 in the South African innings, and a thoroughly headless patch when, after a rain break, South Africa lost six wickets for 19 in the final four overs of their innings, whilst contriving to ensure that Amla only faced two balls during that time.

It was, in truth, a game that neither side deserved to win, but it was a fitting ending to an Indian tour in which there was never any daylight between the two sides and which in all facets emphasised the gulf in class between the top two teams in the world and the rest.