The first test of the 2 test series between India and South Africa is now over and everyone would say that in the end “Draw” was the fair result.
The test series had started for India after a disastrous ODI series which they had lost 2-0. They also had the poor history and a new and inexperienced team to tackle with against a strong South African team which was playing at home on pitches tailor made for their bowling attack.
More than the adjustment on the pitch, it was a mental adjustment that the Indian team (especially batsmen) had to make to have any chances to survive in such conditions (as was mentioned in our previous article https://midnightbreakfast.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/indian-teams-african-safari/)
This is exactly what they did and Virat Kohli was the one who led the pack with a great hundred (119) in the first innings. He stepped in to bat at no.4 and had big shoes to fill and he did not disappoint. His innings of 119 reminded everyone of the innings played by the person he was replacing at no.4 at Perth (Sachin’s 114 in 1992). Ajinkya Rahane also ably supported him and India managed to score a respectable 280 in their first innings.
This fight by the batsmen seemed to rub off onto the bowlers also and they managed to dismiss the South African batsmen for 244 and got a lead of 36 runs. But it could have been better as at one stage they had SAF team at 146/6. Vernon Philander scored a gutsy 59 to help his team bring closer.
India then continued their good show in second innings also and scored 421 and set a target of 458 for SAF to chase. Kohli was the hero again who missed a second hundred in the match by 4 runs and got out for 96. He also missed the chance to become first player batting on no.4 to score two hundreds in a test match. But there was deservedly one more hero, Cheteshwar Pujara. Considered as a perfect replacement for “The Wall- Dravid”, he continued his good form in foreign conditions also and scored 153.
South African team suffered a setback due to Morne Morkel’s injury. But Philander stepped up and dismissed India for 421 after being 300 odd for only 2 at one stage.
After almost 3 and half days of domination by India, it was finally a turn for SAF to come to the fore and make a match of this. AB De Villiers & Faf Du Plessis both scored brilliant centuries and shared a partnership of 205 to bring SAF to an unthinkable victory.
But in the end both teams took a step back and settled for a draw with India short by 3 wickets and SAF short by 8 runs from victory.
This match was a perfect example why test cricket is considered the ultimate test for any cricketer. It was played between evenly matched teams on a very sporting wicket which had something for everyone. Both teams managed to win equal number of sessions. It was a nerve wrecking match where the fortunes of both teams swung in both directions.
This match bought out the best from both teams and for India it helped change some so called “Young Boys” to “Men”.
The match also raised the question “That why is this series just a two match affair”. Probably the second match will also be a cliff hanger and gives both the boards (BCCI & CSA) an eye opener to keep personal ego’s apart and let cricket be a winner in the end.