While you were saying…

Can’t bat on hostile surfaces, can’t face the moving ball, struggle on fast tracks, cannot bowl out opposition, cannot fight….

Who were you talking about? India after first test first innings or South Africa after second test? Tough to differentiate –applies to both teams albeit in different situations.

So here goes me telling you all over again – reiterating my statement – We may not dominate but we bl%^Sy well know how to fight back and defend that No1 Ranking. So if you are having second thoughts, back off right away.

I love this Indian team – it has a spine – it has the nerve to hold on to and not lose it. Cause of the manner we are playing this game – we deserve that No 1 ranking – we are not letting go of it easily and I’m loving every moment of this fightback.

So here is the deal, we don’t boast, we don’t indulge in mindless banter and we do not underestimate any opponents. We admit we don’t have a world class bowling attack – we have a pretty lousy one in fact. No Zaheer and we look below mediocre, Ishaant and Sreesanth are as unpredictable as shooting stars and the lesser I speak about Bhajji the better. Even after today’s win can you all guarantee that you have faith that this very bowling attack will fetch you a win in Capetown? You won’t or you maybe you can’t.

We know our batsmen have failed against the pace and bounce on offer by the deadly duo of Steyn & Morkel, but we have the stomach to put up a fight. Atleast one batsman will put his hand up ( forget that Laxman has been doing it a bit too often). Did you see that young bloke Pujara? PUJARA_16532eHe got just 29 in the match – but what temperament the guy exhibited at this stage. Reminded me of Dravid in Durban ‘96. Yes the man then had got 27 not out in that slaughter of Indian batsmen getting all out for 66. Pujara reminds me of that young Dravid – long way to go but he has got the grit and the gumption to get there. Raina, you hold on till one of those 3 great men retire.

After the first test – Durban was supposed to seal the series win for South Africa – apparently we did not have the ammunition to bowl SA out on the fast Durban pitch. After day 2 it looked like South Africa forgot their lessons in playing the moving ball. We almost lost the game when the trio got out to bad shots – seriously they were awful shots and if we had lost the game I would’ve blamed Sehwag, Dravid and Sachin.

The pitch had eased out considerably and we could’ve posted a far better total than 228 which also would’ve been a distant dream if not for that magical innings of 96 from VVS yet again. 19laxman1This is the 3rd time this year the man has been responsible for what looked improbable wins for India. Yet we do not place him on the same pedestal as the rest, yet we are expecting a smashing Sehwag innings, or Sedate Dravid innings or Glorious Sachin’s 51st century in the 3rd test. What about a delightful Laxman innings again?Have you realized this man will be missed the most when he retires; who is going to be as cool as a cucumber when crisis strikes us? Who is going to hit those delicate off-drives, the magical on-drive and the silken wristy shots? In this world of T20 hitters – where are we going to find that delicate touch and timing of Laxman? Any answers? 

It is amazing what Zaheer’s presence did to the bowling attack – the zing was back. Sreesanth was less erratic and Bhajji was in his element. Ishaant remains a mystery – yet again wickets on no-balls, no passion, no pace – where did that guy of 2007-08 disappear!

And to end it all a big shout to 2 men:

That special man Dravid for achieving what no man had achieved in test cricket before – 200 test catches, what a catch it was to commemorate the occasion.

That erratic devil Sreesanth who has given us a ball to cherish for the rest of our cricket viewing lives. When was the last time you saw a batsman of Kallis’s calibre get out to a snorter of a delivery from an Indian bowler. Prasad remains in my hall of fame for that Aamir Sohail dismissal and so will Sreesanth for this delivery. Take a bow!

Overall it was a gritty performance by India, a nice slap in the face of her detractors. Constructive criticism is good but to run down the team at every sight of failure is plain ridiculous. It makes you a poor fan of the game and of this Indian team.

And here is the reason I will make a big deal of every Indian win on foreign soil. When I started watching cricket , I dreaded India going abroad – to see us bowled out for scores of under 100, to see us losing match after match by innings margins and to see our bowlers being thrashed, to see that draw would be our best bet whenever we took off from the Indian shores. India was a disaster with no fighting spirit in the lot.

Ganguly’s team changed that  slowly and steadily, we started with wins in 2001 in Zimbabwe, then we went to Headingley 2002, Adelaide 2003, Pakistan 2004. Under Dravid we achieve Wanderers 2006, & Nottingham 2007. Then Dhoni took over and we witnessed Perth 2008, Hamilton 2009 and now Durban 2010.

And though each win will remain special, this is the one to savour for my generation, who were teenagers back in ‘96 when the horrors of Durban took place. For erasing those nightmares of 14 years and ensuring a good night’s sleep in the years to come – we owe this Indian team a big thank you.

(Images courtsey: www.thehindu.comwww.indiatimes.com & www.rediff.com)