Tuesday, February 9, 2010
India Surrender to SA
In the fitness of things, Dale Steyn, who flattened India in the first innings with 7 for 51, took the last wicket to finish the match in a convincing style. He ended with a splendid match figure of 10 for 108 runs. Hashim Amla, for his career-best 253 not out, was declared the man of the match.
The hallmark of the test was a sterling century by Sachin Tendulkar (100), when India were looking down the barrel, his 46th, failed to bail India out. But then cricket is a team game and the rest of the top five batsmen made only 80 runs — a true reflection of an abject surrender by the batsmen. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (39) was the second highest scorer after Sachin. In fact, the bottom-half scored 108 runs.
Skipper Graeme Smith introduced left-arm orthodox spinner Paul Harris in the fourth over of the day. And he struck in his third over, frustrating Murali Vijay (32) all the while with his negative wide-of-the-on-side line. Vijay failed to keep his sweep on the ground and Morne Morkel did the rest at deep fine leg. Yet, again a batsman’s dismissal was plotted successfully — a fine example of aggressive and imaginative captaincy.
Talking of positive intent, Sachin was all of it. Never to discard discretion from his armoury, he yet scored runs with refreshing freedom. A couple of on-drives to the fence off fast bowler Dale Steyn were absolute visual delight. Later, he was lucky enough to be dropped by one of the finest contemporary slippers Jacques Kallis off Wayne Parnell. But the maestro came back well in the next over and creamed Parnell for two consecutive boundaries through gully.
Every time Smith placed orthodox short mid-off and mid-on, Sachin played in the squares and when the two fielders were removed, he’d resume his gorgeous drives and split fielders repeatedly. He also employed leg-glance with deadly effect, scoring a string of boundaries off Kallis and Parnell.
And then the game willed another astonishing turn — Sachin’s freak dismissal. The ball hit the pad as Sachin attempted a paddle sweep and then ricocheted to the wickets. With his dismissal, the last ray of hope was extinguished.
With fielders to support and the negative line of wide-outside-the-leg stump, Harris not only frustrated batsmen but also ensured the runs didn’t flow. And he picked up the valuable wickets of Sachin and Dhoni. He finished the day with 3 for 76, including 17 maiden overs from the 38 he bowled.