Home > General > India win at Durban to level series 1-1

India win at Durban to level series 1-1

VVS Laxman

Source: Cricinfo.com

India had started off their campaign in South Africa on a disappointing note, losing the first test by an innings and 25 runs. South Africa arrived at Durban for the second test brimming with confidence, raring to go and finish off the series with 1 test to spare. Graeme Smith even won the toss and put India into bat once again on a lively Durban pitch under overcast conditions. The Durban pitch was going to be more menacing than the Centurion pitch where India succumbed to 130 odd all out in the first innings. This was the reason Graeme Smith had a naughty smile on his face after winning the toss. But, as things would have it, it was MS Dhoni and Indian team which was smiling 4 days later as India put up a spectacular performance to register their first ever win at Durban in a test match. With the win, India have stormed back into the series and the drama would now shift to Cape Town for the final and the deciding test.

When India were put into bat on Day 1, there was prodigious movement for the pace bowlers and Steyn and Morkel were all over India. Sehwag and Vijay (in Gambhir’s absence) somehow, managed to put together a 43 run opening stand before Sehwag was dismissed. From there on, it was wickets at regular intervals and India were bundled out for 205. Steyn was the tormentor in chief with a superb 6-wicket haul, while Morkel and Tsotsobe picked up 2 wickets each.

India had Zaheer back in their bowling line-up for this test and he proved his worth, by not only leading the attack, but guiding Sreesanth and Ishant, who looked different bowlers from Centurion, where they didn’t know what to do and were toothless. Zaheer and Bhajji destroyed the South African batting line-up with 3 and 4 wickets respectively, while Sreesanth and Ishant took 1 wicket each to lend the adequate support. In the process, South Africa were skittled out for a paltry 131 all out, giving India a critical 74 runs first innings lead.

This was exactly the turnaround India were looking for and it was now time to consolidate their position in the match, by batting well in the second innings. But, South Africa had other ideas as they ran through the Indian batting order and had them reeling at 148/7, with Laxman and Zaheer at crease. The lead was only around 220 and it was looking like a target of around 230-240. But, then came another very very special knock from Very Very Special Laxman. VVS Laxman has been the man to the rescue many a time for India and he has made the second innings his own. He revels in pressure situations in second innings and is one of the very few players around the world who have a better average in second innings, as compared to the first. Batting with nonchalant ease, calm and composure on a difficult track, where there was a lot going for the bowlers, Laxman made a classy 96, to guide India to 228. The 70 run stand with Zaheer, who himself made a vital 27, ensured India set a target in excess of 300 runs, which was a very stiff one in the 4th innings on the Durban pitch.

Chasing down 303 was always going to be a difficult task, but Smith and Petersen put up a solid 63 opening stand when Smith got out to a bouncer from Sreesanth. But, India put the screws on South Africa after that and had them at 113/3 by the close of Day 3. Thus, the match was set up nicely for Day 4, with South Africa needing 192 runs, having 7 wickets in hand.

India came out all guns blazing on Day 4 and picked up Kallis, De Villiers and Boucher in very quick succession to virtually end South African hopes. From there on, India stuck to their task and finished the job, bowling out South Africa for 215. Though India had the rub of the green going their way with few dismissals, the bowling was so tight and accurate that the victory was thoroughly deserved one.

Sreesanth was the star in the second innings as he took Smith, Amla and Kallis, to finish with figures of 3 for 45. Zaheer was again impressive with 3 wickets for 57 and Bhajji also took 2 wickets at crucial times, to cap off an all round efficient bowling performance.

India looked a completely different side from the first test and the victory was a testament to their mental strength and fighting abilities, after getting a hammering in the first test. India showed why they are the No 1 side in the world. But the task is only half done as the 3rd test, now becomes the decider and India would do well to ensure that all the good work of the second test doesn’t go to waste. India haven’t lost a test series yet under MS Dhoni and the record will hopefully be intact come the 6th January.

VVS Laxman was the deserved Man-of-the-Match as he top scored in both innings and was the only player on both sides to cross the half century mark. His innings was the difference between a close finish and a comfortable victory, as it eventually turned out to be.

The 3rd test starts at Cape Town from 2nd January and we all look forward to another fantastic match between the top 2 test teams in the world…

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