November 27, 2001

India's tour of South Africa ends with defeat by an innings and 73 runs

India's 2001 tour of South Africa came to an end four overs after lunch on the final day of what, at this stage anyway, remains an unofficial Test match - a five-day international friendly, if you will. The match, the tour and, some would still argue, the series finished when Jacques Kallis trapped Deep Dasgupta lbw to give the home team victory by an innings and 73 runs.

The final setback for India was the inability of their last two batsmen, Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad, to come to the crease. Srinath has a fracture finger, Prasad a pinched nerve in his neck and the Indian innings closed at 261 for eight.

It was not, then, a tour and a series that will be remembered with fondness by India, either for performances on the field and the events that surrounded it off the pitch. At the end of it all Shaun Pollock reiterated his views offered after the first day's play that South Africa had not regarded the game as a proper Test.

Pollock tends to be careful when he speaks in public, but he did offer the thought that if nothing else the Denness affair has underlined the need for the ICC to standardise its disciplinary regulations and procedures. If players knew that this penalty would be imposed for this offence and that penalty for that offence, he said, then players would at least know where they stood.

The implication is that as a result behaviour might improve. This may seem blindingly obvious, but the match referee system has been in place for a decade during which time standards of behaviour have fallen and at the end of which a match referee has plunged the game into serious crisis.

As has been the case for almost the entire tour, the Indians were unable to withstand the South Africans on the last day even though the tourists were supposed to be treating the match as an official Test while the South Africans were playing a practice game.

Rahul Dravid took three fours off Nantie Hayward's first over and was then bowled by a snorter that angled in and then held its line to take off stump and India were off to a poor start.

Sachin Tendulkar was dropped by Gary Kirsten at gully off a dolly of a catch, spanked it around a bit before being bowled for 40 by Makhaya Ntini as he failed to offer a shot and VVS Laxman clipped Ntini straight to Herschelle Gibbs at point to be caught for 23.

Thereafter the Indian innings subsided gently. There was, in truth, very little fight left in the tourists. They have been systematically unravelled by a tough South African team, a fair bit of ill-fortune and, in the end, the controversy that has swirled around their heads. It is difficult to imagine a better-equipped, mentally more resilient side faring much better.

South Africa, then, took the series 2-0 (or 1-0, if you wish, the ICC seems to be having difficult making up its mind about this) which is a fair reflection of the difference between the two teams in South African conditions.

Indian coach John Wright acknowledged as much even as he had to tread the official line that India had played the game as a real Test.

"We lost," he said. "We got beaten. We did not approach the game in any other manner than as a Test match."

Pollock was named man of the match for his unbeaten 113 while Herschelle Gibbs, who scored hundreds in both the first two Tests, was named man of the series.