Tuesday, December 26, 2006

First Prey In African Safari

Some good days for the Indians again. Historical win in the Ist test in South Africa (It is India’s first ever test victory against SA in SA) means a lot to this team which was criticized back home for those four dismal performances in limited overs internationals played here in the African country. As Indian coach Greg Chappel pointed out this win must have hurt SA’s pride which made a no-contest of the ODI series earlier. So at least the test series has begun with the positive note for the Indians.

Good to note that this win is the result of team work rather than one or two individual performances. Electing to bat on the first day was a brave move by the Indians. That paid rich dividends at the end of the match. With the return of former skipper Sourav and elegant Laxman team had gained on the middle order in terms of experience. Sourav’s gritty 51 not out in India’s total of 249 must have sent right signals to his critics.

It was a great come back for the Indian bowlers when they bowled out SA for a mere 84, their second lowest score ever in tests, from the ODIs when they were smashed all over the park. In the process India had found their new hero in Sreesanth, with 5-wicket haul in his kitty. Not to forget the contributions from Zaheer Khan and stalwart Kumble. The 165 runs first innings lead India gained played the crucial part in the match. I can hardly remember any occasion in recent times when India gained such a lead in the foreign soil.

It was VVS Laxman’s turn to hold up the things in the 2nd innings. With almost similar to the Ist innings performance, India set a target of over 400 runs in the fourth innings for the South Africans. A target of over 400 runs in the last innings of a test match on any day, any surface is going to be a daunting task for any team. In the final innings, Indian pace men who had already made an impression in the Ist innings set to their task with Zaheer and Sreesanth picking up early wickets. But South African resistance in the form of Ashley Prince and Shaun Pollock could only be overcome by the warhorse Kumble. In the end it was a win for India by whopping 123 runs. Kudos to Indian team for achieving this well deserved victory.

Its second time this year India have got the lead in the test series, earlier being in West Indies when it lead 1-0 and wrapped up the series with the same margin. It would be interesting to watch the remaining two tests with South Africa eager to bounce back and India trying to maintain the momentum gained. Few years back in Australia when India won the Ist test match and lead the series 1-0 the then Australian captain Steve Waugh had commented that it was advantage Australia as India had less experience overseas leading the series to cope up with that. Eventually series was drawn 1-1. Hope this time in South Africa it would be yet another series victory as it was in West Indies.


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