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December 18, 2006
Apart from being a historic match for India, the Wanderers Test was a truly eventful game, the three-plus days packed with incidents that were great cricket and high drama. We pick out eight scenes; some changed the course of the game, others were interesting sidelights but all of them played their part in making this a truly memorable occasion
Dravid's steely glare
On a two-paced pitch with the ball darting around alarmingly, Rahul Dravid copped several body blows on the first morning. One delivery from Nel, in the 23rd over, reared off a good length and rapped Dravid hard on the glove, close to the injured finger. Nel followed it with a verbal barrage but Dravid responded with a fierce, bloody-minded glare that conveyed much more than words could.
Ganguly's majestic pull
Batting with the tail on the second morning, Sourav Ganguly produced the shot of the match. Having ducked under a Makhaya Ntini bouncer he seemed to anticipate another short one. Getting into position early, he let rip an eye-popping pull and tonked the ball way into the midwicket stand. With that one shot, he laid several ghosts to rest.
Singh on song
India seemed to have lost their way a bit at 205 for 9 in their first innings, after losing four wickets for 39, but they hadn't accounted for No.11 VRV Singh. Jacques Kallis sent across a full-length ball on the stumps and VRV casually made room for himself and clubbed it savagely through extra-cover. It was the start of the momentum shift and South Africa never recovered.
Long maligned for his poor athletic ability, Virender Sehwag pouched two brilliant catches and lifted India's morale. His reflexive lunge at gully to account for Herschelle Gibbs in the first innings was a sharp take but it was bettered by the spectacular dive in the second, to intercept Graeme Smith's slash. Catch! Sehwag! It all added up to something special.
Zak can bat
Zaheer Khan's vital 37 helped India stretch the lead beyond 400 but it was his first 25 deliveries, which he didn't score off, that many will remember. Countering South Africa's chin music through a combination of dead-bat defence, ducking, and weaving, he pitched his tent. Zaheer had given his wicket away with an atrocious swipe in the first innings and it was refreshing to see him buckle down and show his tenacity.
Sreesanth goes bananas
It's a moment that will be played on and on on Indian television, rivaling Ganguly's shirt-waving antics on the Lord's balcony. The sequence of events have been well documented - Sreesanth doesn't connect a Nel short one, is sledged for not having the heart for a fight, charges down the track the next ball, knocks it straight over the bowler's head for six, maniacally swings his bat while running to the other end, crosses Nel, and gyrates his hips with a ferocity that would make the movies. For probably the first time ever, Nel was beaten hands down in his own game.
Ganguly digs it in
He bowled only one over all game but Ganguly's first ball to Kallis won't be forgotten. Forget looseners, this one reared off a good length and thudded into Kallis's chest, rendering him shocked for a few moments. He got back with two spanking fours but he'd received an unplayable delivery from an unlikely quarter. Ganguly later let out a smile when asked about the ball and added, "it probably hit a crack".
Zaheer's under-arm flick
AB de Villiers was stitching together a defiant partnership with Ashwell Prince but a smart piece of fielding from Zaheer - yes, the same Zaheer who many thought needed to be hid in the field, thwarted them. de Villiers, one of the quickest runners in world cricket, scampered for a single but Zaheer, at mid-on, charged towards the ball, swooped down and completed an underarm flick in one motion. Direct hit! Zaheer! Nothing could stop India for the last four days, not even history.
- Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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