South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 5th day

No risk, no reward for South Africa

South Africa made sure they wouldn't lose this Test by not declaring in their second innings, but in the process might have missed out on winning it too

Firdose Moonda at Newlands

January 6, 2011

Comments: 98 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Smith and MS Dhoni share the trophy after India drew their Test series in South Africa 1-1, South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 5th day, January 6, 2011
India drew a Test series in South Africa for the first time © AFP
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Teams: South Africa

As the sun began to disappear behind Table Mountain and the curtain began to fall on the fourth day of the deciding Test between South Africa and India, one question hovered over Newlands: When would South Africa declare? When they reached 270 and still had about 100 overs to bowl India out? When Jacques Kallis reached his second hundred of the match? When the lead had swelled to 300? The answer ended up being never, because South Africa waited to be bowled out for 341, setting India a target that, if reached, would have been a record at Newlands.

Like a child reaching for its security blanket in times of anxiety, South Africa wanted to be in as comfortable a position as they could. Their first priority was not to lose the series. That might have been anyone's reaction, when at 130 for 6, it looked as though defeat, albeit to the world's number one Test side, was imminent. "We really had our backs to the wall then," Graeme Smith said, which may have explained why they didn't want to stop building their wall of resistance until the bricks had run out.

It was sensible in that it guaranteed two results, a South Africa win or a draw because India had been set a total that they would not be interested in chasing. In terms of a safety net, it was a good one, but in terms of applying the principles of an aggressive mindset, something team psychologist Dr Henning Gericke swears by, it was flawed. Gericke told ESPNCricinfo before the Test that South Africa had to learn to "take more risks and not be afraid to try things." Dangling a carrot like a target of 280 in front of India would have been a gamble but it would have sporting. It would have showed intent and positivity and it would have made for a more testing end to what's been an enthralling series.

The statistics were all in South Africa's favour. A team had only chased more than 300 once at Newlands. Not any team, but Australia at the height of their powers in 2002. South Africa have only failed to defend a target over 250 at home under Smith once (against Australia in Johannesburg in 2006) and India are historically poor chasers.

Still, something in Smith's mind wanted safety above all else. At the post match press conference he gave a little insight into what that might have been. "You are looking for your spinner to contribute more and more as the game goes on," Smith said, "Harbhajan did it for them yesterday," Paul Harris battled to be effective on the Newlands pitch, because, despite the bounce, he would only be able to find turn in the rough, and for that he would have needed to be a different bowler as Harbhajan himself said after day four. "I don't think he will have an impact. He would have to be a right arm-offspinner to find the rough."

Harris has proved himself invaluable in containing roles, he often gets key wickets during crucial passages of play, but he is self-admittedly not an attacking spin bowler. His value for the team comes in other areas, for example, he only gave away 29 runs in his 30 overs on the final day and he is part of the brains trust of the team, but he is not a bowler who is known for being aggressive. South Africa have been happy with a containing spinner in their side but have shown signs of wanting a more attacking one, and with Imran Tahir becoming eligible to play for them, they may have found one. This Test match highlighted why, at times, they will need one.

For large portions of the day's play, South Africa had five men around the bat and set attacking fields. It wasn't enough to bag them wickets because, besides being one bowler short, there was little support for Dale Steyn. Morne Morkel, who was exceptional in Centurion, has been inconsistent since then, and Lonwabo Tsotsobe was unlucky, as catches were dropped off his bowling in all three Tests. While Tsotsobe did manage a few important scalps, his name is still not glued to the position of third seamer.

While the series highlighted more about the bowling than it did about the batting, the aspect of South Africa's game it really put under a microscope was the mental one. South Africa are a team that can perform superbly to plans, as they showed in Centurion. They panic when things get beyond their control as they did in Durban, and they have not yet reached the point where they are willing to play the brand of brave cricket to which they once claimed to be dedicated. That courage is not the type that sees Jacques Kallis bat for hours with a pain in his rib that made him feel like he had been "stabbed" in that area, it's not the type that sees Smith walk out to bat with a broken hand, it's not the type that overcomes physical pain at all. It's the courage to overcome a mental hurdle, the one that says "we need to be safe" and to take a chance on the unknown.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Posted by StJohn on (January 8, 2011, 9:50 GMT)

"No risk, no reward for South Africa"? We should say exactly the same about India: 166-3 off 82 overs was an uncourageous and risk averse effort on the final day, with such a lauded batting line-up and the opportunity to secure an undisputed win over the contender on his home ground. A rather anti-climactic, disappointing and safety-first end to an otherwise great series between two great teams. The reality is that both SA and India need to be less cautious if they're to have any chance at domination and sustaining their no.1 and no.2 positions, as opposed to being just first among equals.

Posted by stormy16 on (January 8, 2011, 6:41 GMT)

A drawn series on paper but India are the winners without a doubt. They didint have the same fire power SA had and the conditions were unfamiliar yet they stood up to SA time and again. I thought Gambir was a sensation keeping out Steyn and Morkel with the new ball on more occassions than not. Sree was the same and are easily Indias best on toru. Dravid is at the cross roads I reckon and Sharma will be dropped unless he shows something special soon. Sachin and Lax showed just what we know they are. For SA Kallis and Amla were good with AB showing enough but not when it mattered. Steyn was sensational. Morkel was dissappointing I thought and Tsotsobe was unlucky but you dont get the feeling he is going to knock over sides. SA need a new plan for their spinner the Harris experiment hasnt worked and doesnt give them prospects of winning tests. All in all great series any who had doubts about India's #1 status can start to look for ways to other teams to beat them.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2011, 2:32 GMT)

@Shamit Bringi Dev , with fans as pessimistic as you who needs haters. I mean really even when indians had upper hand in last two test matches all you can think is how indians would have lost this series with all your ifs and buts. Shame on you.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (January 7, 2011, 21:12 GMT)

Its not the end of the world for SA, when they were 130-6 , they were in position to lose it and the only option left was to save it. draw it. I like SA approach that they were going to lose on the basis of 130-6 but indian bowling did help them and they got out of danger.

I dont think its feasible to call trouble on your self two times by giving 250 + to india to try and win. Luck would never help SA twice.

I like SA decsion and Indian decsion too becuase their bowling let them down. Good tight series.

Posted by shovwar on (January 7, 2011, 20:58 GMT)

We can atleast say that there is no clear best team in the world at the moment....true India ahead in papers but in reality they did not look an inch better than SA and England is also breathing down their neck....The rankings would be changing a lot in the next few years.....and lot of good players would be retiring as well...the World at the moment does not have a team like Aus and WI in their prime...Yea SA is just short of an attacking spinner to get their...Hope Imran Tahir makes a different.....But i gotta give this Indian team credit for not losing the series which would be the best possible result for this top ranked team in papers....

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 19:59 GMT)

Historically, Indians are poor chasers? 404 to win in Windies in 76, 421 for 8 chasing 429 at Oval in 1979, 447 losing to Aus chasing 484 in Australia in 1978. 390 for 4 against England 2 years ago on a wretched track, consecutive chases of 200 plus just in last 4 months. Where have you been? Who chases better?

I do agree with you that Smith played it conservatively. A target of 285 withh Sten having a go at the end of day 4 against Indian opener was certainly worth the risk. But when SA threw a chalange to australia few years ago, Ponting walloped them and this may be at the back of thier mind. Unfortunately, SA are better challanger than leaders.

Posted by ultrasnow on (January 7, 2011, 18:38 GMT)

Smith was right. A gettable target of 280 followed by Sehwag cameo would have put India on track for a first ever series win in South Africa This article sucks

Posted by pavan. on (January 7, 2011, 17:50 GMT)

proteas are defensive at the time of declaration and placing the aggressive field positions around the defensive indian batsman.should have placed some more fielders near indian batsman bcoz there is variable bounce in the pitch and no need to make the batsman face the entire over without changing the strike.just crowd the batsman and bowl stright or wicket to wicket is my idea

Posted by Wexfordwonder on (January 7, 2011, 17:17 GMT)

I think India did very well and laid to rest the perception that they cannot play well outside of the subcontinent. However, to my mind they have not emphatically proved themselves a superior team. England and SA are still contenders and if they can consistently beat (not draw) these sides then they are true world beaters. For now, they are a very god team but they are not head and shoulders above the rest. SA drew in India and India drew in SA, what does that tell you? Maybe it is time for SA and Inda to play a 5 test series. Ohhhhh my mouth waters. I think the series was tense and magnificent and I am sorry that there were not two more games.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 16:42 GMT)

South Africa played safe knowing well that THIS particular batting line up of India cannot be taken lightly.. records can be broken any time.. if they had declared before 300 thinking they were beaten only once when the target was > 250, they would have committed a blunder.. It is HIGH risk.. I do not blame South Africa or India for the way they played... both teams had enough respect for each other. it is as simple as that.. Smith not declaring clearly indicates how highly he respects the Indian batsmen.. Could you imagine him doing this against the current Australian side?? of course, he would have happily declared at 300.. Indians are poor chasers?? already forgotten the 387 against England? this current wicket was far from being effective.. India settled with draw only because they never did even that in SA.. it is a great achievement.. India were not expected to do any better than what they did in the first test.. now the critics can talk.. :))

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 16:39 GMT)

@ Raju Iyer: "This Indian team may not be the greatest ever, but they are a good head and shoulders above any other current team" - were you watching the same series we all just did??? What I saw were two teams with very little to separate them. This is especially apparent when you take the result of the last series in India (also a draw) into consideration. I think the current South African team is very very good with individuals such as Smith, Steyn and Kallis that showcase the best that this game has to offer. As an Indian fan I take great heart from the fact that this Indian team could stand up to the South Africans in their own backyard and come out with a very honourable result. While both sides showed areas where they could improve, they also demonstrated great skill and character.

Posted by bringoncurtley on (January 7, 2011, 16:29 GMT)

You only have to go back to the series against England to see Smiths defensive mindset.SA should have won that 3=1 but the same fear ruled his thoughts.That being said can anyone name a recent captain who declared and set realistic targets??!!

Posted by vamsiduke on (January 7, 2011, 16:22 GMT)

I can't honestly believe that people expect a team - no matter how good the batting line-up is - to chase 340 on the final day! For one thing, the batters will be tired having been on the field for four days. Second, we have a pitch with cracks and uneven bounce (which is mostly the case even on a beautiful surface by the fifth day). Third, if the chasing team loses a few wickets, then there is the immense pressure to bat out the whole day. Just be sensible... I don't think even the vaunted Australia of the 90s or West Indies of the 70s and 80s would have made an attempt to win this match! South Africa made the same mistake India has done on numerous occasions... safety first. If they seriously wanted to win this match, they should have set India a target of around 240-250 in three and a half sessions. I'll bet anything, that would have been a mammoth effort chasing.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 15:30 GMT)

Well, we all expected South Africa to declare after Kallis got his century, and have a go at the Indian batting, with Gambhir injured, and Dravid being the possible opener. But surprise, surprise, Graeme Smith chose to let the innings go on and on, to let Gambhir rest his injury and decide he was in a decent condition to bat on the fifth day. Well, all I can say is that it was a tactical mistake on the part of Smith, when South Africa could have been celebrating a good win yesterday, and India would have been ruing the fact that they lost yet another Test Series in South Africa!!

Posted by shaunak1981 on (January 7, 2011, 15:09 GMT)

First up, Both teams justified their rankings. India came back from 0-1 and leveled the series. Next, Critics initially wrote off India saying, SA would win 3-0. Other thing, in the first two tests wickets were made to assist SA bowlers, but still India manage to come back from 0-1. Other thing I want to point out, How is it a sporting wicket when only one team can utilize the pitch. In the first test, SA got help from the pitch, Bowled India out, then came the sun out and pitch became flat, how is that a sporting wicket? second test, both teams utilized the condition and India won. So if India had also gotten a chance to utilize the conditions in first test, India could have won the first test, or even a draw could have been possible. keeping all this in mind, I think India did better than SA. Not saying that this is the best performance from India, but they did better than SA considering that wickets were made keeping SA bowling attack in perspective.

Posted by cricketeria on (January 7, 2011, 14:53 GMT)

SA will have a defensive mindset as long as the personnel remain the same. They need a Steyn type character as a captain or coach. The difference between Kallis and Gary Sobers is the attacking mindset. But full marks to India for drawing the series. I was expecting them to lose 2-0. They bowled well and tendulkar gambhir vvs played very well. But I was right about one thing. Sehwag is not a complete batsman. He was totally defeated in SA and has to raise his game beyond flat track bullying in the sub-continent.

Posted by khurramsch on (January 7, 2011, 14:33 GMT)

Agree with title yet again SA taking no risk & no reward.

Posted by Nampally on (January 7, 2011, 14:19 GMT)

If SA had declared say one hour before the close of play on Day 4 setting India a target of say 275, it might have been a sporting target for India to chase. That final one hour would have decided the series. If SA got 2 or 3 wickets, they would have won. But if India got 60 for no loss then India would have won. But the fact is India blew this test from their grasp with score at 130 for 6 and again when Boucher was out at around 230 for 7. If India had got SA out for 250, India would have won the match. I don't blame Smith for playing safe, after the team worked so hard. Missed opportunities by India three times during this test cost them a victory and the series.I think India played & adapted very well to the wicket and to the 2 of 4 top ranked fast bowlers in the world.India was unlucky with the Toss in the first test which cost them the match. They also missed Zaheer in that test. If India had the same luck as SA with toss & no inuries, India may have won this series easily.

Posted by rajneeshamin0101 on (January 7, 2011, 14:15 GMT)

I think the Indian team lost the initiative on Day 4 when we couldnt get the South Africans for a total of around 200-250. May be Zak was carrying some injury at that time and Bhajji also lost the plot somewhere. After that, getting a score of 340 is simply too steep for our Indian team. You guys talk about the WI team and the Aussie team of old. Well , I would love to see MSD be a little more aggressive like how the WIs and Aussies were, but we should also note that he doesnt have the bowling resources of those 2 great teams. So looking at the result with this in mind, I think the current Indian team did well.

Posted by SnowSnake on (January 7, 2011, 13:41 GMT)

Not declaring in the 2nd innings shows that SA themselves did not believe in the myth of Indian batsmen shortcommings against fast bowling or their bowlers themselves. What makes India strong is a balance in the team. Gambhir, Tendulkar, VVS, Zaheer, Bhajji, Shreesanth & occasionally Dhoni & Dravid all contributed to the series. SA for the most part was a 2 man show (Steyn & Kallis) with occasional contribution from Morkel & Amla. SA lacks a quality spinner and India lacks a quality 140kmph+ fast bolwer. A high quality fast bowler will keep India in #1 position for another 1 year. SA on the other hand should focus more on winning a series with ANY team, otherwise they will lose their #2 ranking as well.

Posted by talktohari2002 on (January 7, 2011, 13:13 GMT)

@SoftwareStar..I really disagree with you..actually i was irritated at the 4th day's play of india..the game really dead there for india..they should have attacked and get SA out within 200-250 runs. may be they r afraid of chasing 250 in 110 overs and so they allowed SA to score 350 runs so that nobody complain about their approach for a win in the 5th day :)

Posted by Kush0703 on (January 7, 2011, 13:08 GMT)

I am really happy with the outcome of this series, with many people tagging India to go down 0-3 this sure is a fitting reply to the critics. This sure was one of the most intriguing series in a long time, kudos to the team for showing us the resilience and the determination to bounce back after being 1 down, now the focus shifts to the one days and the T20's and If India can pull that one off feel this would be a very successful tour for them!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 12:49 GMT)

SA lost momentum and a chance to push for victory by not declaring late on the fourth day and giving themselves a few overs to attempt a quick strike or two before the end of that day. Disappointing.

Posted by HerbertAnchovy on (January 7, 2011, 12:49 GMT)

Declaring with a lead of 270 with 100 overs to go would have been brave but silly. In the modern age sides normally score well over 3 runs per over. To declare leaving India a target with a scoring rate of 2.7 runs per over would have courted disaster and no captain would risk throwing a series away like that. There's no point writing articles like this which are based on hindsight.

Posted by Sandykumar on (January 7, 2011, 12:45 GMT)

Friends, As everyone would agree, India doesnt have the commitment nor the ability to take 10 wickets by their own skill. They would rather depend on the pitch, climate and the opposition (they should get some weak opponents) . Ofcourse because they know what ever they do, they have money. None of the players, except a bit of Tendulkar, really apply some commitment, some patriotism, some adamancy for success. India doesnt have some 5 to 6 real quick bowlers who could intimidate any opposition. In such a vast populated country, why India dont have a best range of selectors out there in BCCI to select some real heros of a group of 11 instead of taking underbribes or being partial statewise or language wise or caste wise etc, etc. I think we would start a reality show to choose our cricketers. I the end of the day, the captain or the BCCI would fool the public by accepting their mistakes saying like "today our opponent played better cricket than us", the climate didnt suit us", etc, etc.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 12:38 GMT)

Guyz, if India had gone chasing they would have lost it. Even the Aussies at their peak have lost (the epic battle at Kolkata) chasing 384 runs on the last day. 341 never gonna be easy on day 5. It was wise from India's point to draw it and level the series. Good job done. Dhoni yet to loose a series a captain. Congrats Team India.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 12:37 GMT)

Kallis and Smith lost them the game. Kallis should have attacked when he got his hundred, instead of letting the entire bottom order out score him, they probably would have gotten 340 with 8 overs to bowl at on day 4. That would have meant possibly 2 wickets over night which would have changed the game.

Also, to be honest, Durban was the only real fair contest, in terms of bat and ball, with this test being so so. If SA had not won the toss in Ceturion, we might have seen instead of a draw, but a 2 -0 victory to india.

All in all, SA got lucky. If you cant bowl out a team on the last day, in your country, on a deterioting pitch, with two of the apparent fast bowlers bowling close to 150, then somethings not right with your assessment of how good you think you are.

they got three wickets in dubai against pakistan, same three wickets here. surely they cant keep blaming the pitch? they dropped catches too.


Posted by kr_kinshuk on (January 7, 2011, 12:24 GMT)

i think more than south africa it was india that should be disappointed.... they had south africa 6 down for next to nothing.....

it did prove that india are deserving no.1s but it was a missed opportunity.....

Posted by Wasim_Wasamadroota on (January 7, 2011, 11:26 GMT)

Absolutely weak effort by India by not even having a go at the win. To be a true number one you should have the confidence and bravado to win from anywhere. As an Aussie, the India v SA series was great to watch until the last day of the decider (better than the Ashes anyway, boohoo). I think England are building a more daring and exciting team than both SA and India.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 11:24 GMT)

Get Imran Tahir in and India are as good as beaten.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 11:10 GMT)

Leaving everything aside I think Test cricket has been a winner in this series. Overall, SA had an edge with Steyn and Morkel but it was nullified by a better performance by India's middle and lower order batsmen. There are many ifs and buts going around but i think the players out in the middle are good enough to understand what's best for their team ( one thing that comes to my mind is the famous Kolkata Test in 2001 against Australia where Ganguly did not declare well into the first session of last day after Laxman's 281 and still won the match ). It all comes down to having a potent spinner in the team to make such decisions. I don't think SA will be able to climb to no. 1 Test rankings without a quality spinner. Australia had Warne and McGill when they were dominating Test Cricket, Kumble and Bhajji have been doing the same in this decade for India, England have had a good find in Swann so England have climbed up to no. 2 in Test Cricket.

Posted by AKmAK on (January 7, 2011, 10:41 GMT)

Well done Team INDIA..!! at last you guys locked the ugly tounges of Indian haters. Hopes nobody has anymore doubt about (incl. Smith) IND's #1 rank. Now its time for SA to prove that they really worthy of #2. In the meantime I have a doubt, what was the role played Smith in this series? As a below par and arrogant captain, who well plays out side the ground!!. No matter who plays, under his leadership SA'ns are not gonna win any major games in the near future. Once again Hat's off IND team, they really make every fan proud.. so bring it on same to ODI series.. all the very BEST.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 10:37 GMT)

Folks everyone talks of INDIA should hav tried for a win..just think 5 th day wicket how can INDIA leave alone the rankings can chase it.. even on second and 3 rd day max runs scored was 270 its SA who made it a tame game..had they given a target of 270-290 INDIA would hav tried and some chance of SA win would hav been there... it clearly showed niether bowlers are superior to others...Test matches are won only by 20 balls so INDIA managed to do tat but SA failed so INDIA s the CLEAR WINNER here...

Posted by indianpunter on (January 7, 2011, 10:32 GMT)

India are poor chasers? since when Firdose?? Did you know that India chased 4th innings scores in excess of 200, 5 times in the last 16 months? Smith is a defensive captain and Dhoni, i feel, would have done exactly the same. The one captain i can think would have made a sporting declaration would be Mark Taylor.

Posted by bluebillion on (January 7, 2011, 9:55 GMT)

Dangling a carrot of 280 in front of India? Well Firdose, I am afraid that is not going to happen in the modern day game. It is too risky and the probablity of team chasing down such totals have gone up quite a lot in the last 3 - 4 years. I do agree that SA could have declared with around 15 overs to bowl at India on the 4th day but thats about it. Forget India, SA wouldnt have declared at 280 even against Bangladesh - for that matter, neither would India.

Posted by ncrickfun on (January 7, 2011, 9:52 GMT)

how about getting Dravid or Tendulkar along with Gambhir to open up on last day and wear out the ball for hour and half, there after when ball is not moving much get sehwag on field.

Posted by mogan707 on (January 7, 2011, 9:34 GMT)

It would have been another day of tension filled,heart-beat rising day had India managed to bowl out SA under 250.But India did not do it and played slowly and hence SA not only found an escape rout through Kallis but also came to dominate the final day.Had Gautam Gambhir succumbed in the first session itself, it would have been curtains for India.Hail Gautam Gambhir as he is future wall of India. As far as Dravid is concerned ,he is losing his spot slowly and steadily.Cheteswar Pujara is in line to take the reigns.

Posted by Santhosh3186 on (January 7, 2011, 9:33 GMT)

India lost the winning position around the tea time and SA lost it batting after Kallis reached 100

Posted by sri1ram on (January 7, 2011, 9:18 GMT)

Hmmmm.. Both teams played safe - can you blame either of them. Why would SA risk their logical number 2 status, just as why would India risk their moral Number 1 status? Kallis played the exact same role for RSA that Laxman played for India, without him the RSA batting would have collapsed by 200 to max 250 handing India a well-fought victory and a series. So ultimately we saw a final result where neither team gained a superiority point - which was the fairest result from all angles.

Posted by Sabwani on (January 7, 2011, 8:55 GMT)

Well This is a joke.... "no risk no gain for south africa" this should have been for India bcoz they made only 166 in 82 overs R.R only 2.2 "lowest in series" declaring at 300 would have been blunder. S.A did right, India sill got a chance to win as they have player like Sehwag, tendulkar.... still...ny ways guys before commenting on it try to be neutral...

Posted by JayPadia on (January 7, 2011, 8:55 GMT)

This apparently is being really hard on SA. Most of the teams in SA's position would have done the same. Best case, an aggressive team would have declared maybe 20 runs early and not more.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 8:49 GMT)

Guys who are saying that India should have gone for the killings will be the ones to criticize India First if it had failed and lost the match and series to SA, there is no way to satisfy the guys like you. This is a good test series and India have proved their worth. Being a sentimental guy I wish this test match started a day later i.e. on Jan 3rd Instead of Jan 2nd, may be it would have been coincidence with the results of the Ashes tests ;) like boxing day tests won by visiting teams and the previous test won by hosts, I am just tooooooooo sentimental :D

Posted by Morpheus273 on (January 7, 2011, 8:34 GMT)

SAffers have once again proved their SAFETY first approach, as a result, the tag of BEST TEAM has always eluded them. They claim to be the TRUE #1 side. Reality Check!!...No current team can match the aura and the domination of the Great Aussie Era, forget about any #1 team. No team in near sight (forget about SA or ENG) can come close to the AUSSIES in their prime. They were the true #1. So, when Smith asks the Indians to replicate what Aussies did, in order to become TRUE #1 in his eyes, he is asking little too much. Even the current SA team can't come close to the mighty Aussies of prime. So, with Aussies out of the fray, in a level playing field, India is the # 1 side and they have shown that in SA. Lets forget about Aussies and what they did earlier and rank the teams as per their current performances. When Smith and people around the world do this, they will realize that India is the #1 side now. Also, it was due to the late declaration by Smith that cost India to win the series.

Posted by MiddleStump on (January 7, 2011, 8:25 GMT)

It is easy to come to any conclusion by ignoring a lot of facts. Moonda has not bothered to consider many factors. Kallis was not going to bowl, Harris is not a match winner, Steyn and Morkel had already bowled 20 plus overs in the first innings until the final session of the 3'rd day and the weather was predicted to be hot for the final day. It was obvious to anyone that the two fast bowlers for SA had no venom in the final session which is why Smith offered to end the game after 82 overs. All this is without considering India's approach, a possible Sehwag onslaught etc. SA also has to worry about England which is fast closing in on the number 2 rating. A loss does not help. Al things considered, safety first was not such a stupid decision as being made out.

Posted by outsider702 on (January 7, 2011, 8:23 GMT)

Well done to India for securing a first ever draw in SA. Unfortunately, it is quite clear that, had the UDRS been implemented, the series would have gone SA's way. Gambhir, Tendulkar all had decisions to go for them , whist Boucher and de Villiers got the tail end of decisions. That's why India do not use it. They can not win with it. SA last lost a series in India in the 90's. But India still have a LONG way to go before beating SA in SA.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 8:18 GMT)

South Africa didn't risk a fighting target - and it was not merely about risking a loss. With England almost assured of a 3-1 win in the Ashes (at the end of day 4 of the India-SA Test), they would have overtaken SA to take #2 in the ICC Test Rankings if India won the Test. I think that was what SA were trying to protect. Drawing a series and staying at #2 was always going to be a better option than losing the series and dropping to #3, when you consider that winning the test and series would not have given SA #1 anyway.

Posted by moBlue on (January 7, 2011, 7:59 GMT)

my main criticism of team IND in the 3rd test has to do with dhoni's captaincy. on day 4, his field setting was defensive way too early and for far too long when IND had SA on the mat with 6 down for 130 or so! ...and he refused to use his brains and counter kallis with an attacking field when kallis reverse swept harbhajan. harbhajan had a forward and a backward short leg and a square leg, thereby making a flick on a ball off-spinning and bouncing on leg a risky shot for kallis. he didn't like this, and reverse-swept, a brilliant strategy! kallis should have been forced by dhoni's field-setting to take risks with both sweeps for a good one hour! [a forward short leg, men on both sides at the 45 for the sweeps, cover, midwicket, long-off, wide long-on, sweeper on both sides square of the wicket; if kallis successfully reverse-sweeps fine, which he did once, push gully fine] dhoni also refused to attack with his field when bhajji bowled to boucher! he also kept bowling ishant! yikes!!!

Posted by sweetspot on (January 7, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

India had no chance of winning chasing 360 on a dicey deck. On an Indian pitch, they would have gone for it. But Dhoni did the right thing by asking his players to play for one thing - a draw. For all of SA's so called aggression, they played not to lose, more than to win. India's batting might come good at any time, on any deck, against any attack - EVERYBODY should know this by now. Smith only proved this fear. But why did his famed bowling attack get only 3 wickets in a whole day of bowling?

Posted by AsherCA on (January 7, 2011, 7:55 GMT)

Softwarstar, keep in mind that Australia before Sydney 2008 was normally "unusually lucky" to benefit from umpiring errors. Other teams would not have the confidence to go after 340 in 90 overs, because it requires a slam-bang innings from at least 2 batsmen & the batsmen would not be "unusually lucky". So it boils down to India chucking the match at Smith who was unwilling to gut it out & declare with 100 overs & a target of 320 or so. If Smith was unwilling to risk defeat for victory, why should India chuck victory at him ?

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 7:43 GMT)

I cant understand all the talk calling india's play as rubbish... Chasing 340 is like setting records itself and that too on 5th day SA pitch... Instead i'm surprised SA bowling 'guns' couldn't take even 5 wickets... Look at sehwag even he knew the target was too much to attack and certainly he knows it better than all of us posting comments here... How can we say that first lose 4-5 wickets and then try for a draw...this is ridiculous... Bravo indian team, they may not be the dominating champions like australia of 2000's yet but certainly well better than any other current team...

Posted by anto_446 on (January 7, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

Only Dhoni should explain on why Shewag wasnt used for his bowling in the last test when South Africa were tottering 130/6..and no other bowler were able to break the partnership between Kallis n Boucher....atleast Shewag could have got some confidence in Bowling and if he would have got wickets ...his poor form with the bat would have been made up for!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Rahulbose on (January 7, 2011, 7:30 GMT)

I would not say SA were too defensive. Most sides would want to secure the series. And they knew that Harris is no better than a part time spinner so gambling wih a small total could easily backfire.

Overall this series showed the one weakness in both India and SA test squads. Indians don't have a quality pace attack since Zaheer has no support and is also frequently injured. SA on the other hand can't handle spin and don't have a good spin bowler, so they had to resort to preparing tailor made seamer friendly conditions just to get a draw.

Posted by leomc on (January 7, 2011, 7:28 GMT)

Don't Know what some of these people think... chase 340 in one day on a 5th day pitch against a good bowling attack!!! Could any of you show me any Capn who tried to achieve it - well in the post worldwar II era I know of only one Capn who did it - Bradman with his invincibles in the 3rd test of 1948 Ashes in Leeds.

And whoever think real dominant #1 teams would go for that target on a 5th day pitch may refer to this match - Aus V SA Adelaid 1998. Aus chases 341 with a day and 15 overs to spare - what do they do? bat out for a draw - score 50 in 30 overs, score 110 in 60 overs and so on!!! West Indies 1978 in Kolkatta - chasing 335 in a little more than a day on an easy pitch (refer almanack rpt on pitch status ), WI batted out a draw.. WI V Eng 1975 London - batted out a draw chasing 323 in 85 overs!!!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 7:20 GMT)

I am little disappointed with the folks complaining about India not chasing 340 runs in 90 overs. Do they realize in the past (in 70s/80s/90s/00) how many times the number #1 teams chased more than 340 in 90 overs on the final day? I remember only one time. When West Indies chased 344 against England in June 1984. Apart from that I don't remember on any other occasion number #1 team chased in excess of 340 runs in a single day. I agree that there are other instances where other teams (not number#1 team) chased in excess of 340 runs but almost all those instances (may be there 1 or 2 exception at most) they batted for more than 90 overs. So please don't complain about India not chasing 340 on fifth day of the last test of the series on a dusty pitch.

Posted by gzawilliam on (January 7, 2011, 7:19 GMT)

Oh my god. Did i just see a comment saying that maybe its time for Sehwag to go? @Jairam Amrith - you do realise that was just a 3 match series not a calendar year he underperfomed in. Like really what is going through your head? He is the current ICC player of the year and the current test player of the year for 2010. But yes your right he's just useless. He is by far the best opening batsmen in the world and one of the main reasons India are ranked number 1 in the world right now.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 7:10 GMT)

with sehwag there...i cant really blame SA for setting 340 on last day...and with steyn breathing fire..i cant blame india for playing it safe either...had it been declaration of 300...with 5 overs overnight...SA wud be in a good chance...

Posted by Kirstenfan on (January 7, 2011, 6:55 GMT)

Well done to India for playing so well here in SA, often these comments are very vitriolic and biased, but great progress and deservedly world no 1, we (SA) need a better opening partner for Smith, a better number 6 (JP for Prince), a spinner who can actually take wickets (Tahir for Harris) and ideally a 3rd seamer with more pace who can also contribute runs for SA (so Parnell for Tsotso who was unlucky but does not really look like a wicket taker)

Posted by vaempuli on (January 7, 2011, 6:54 GMT)

A tribute to India's detractors:

Before the test series: We don't think India will win any tests. Margin will be atleast 2-0 in SA's favour, they after all are the best team. Not India.

After the first test: Pat pat pat (patting themselves on their backs). See.. we told you so! India is not the #1 test team in the world. They are useless ... can't win anything outside India. Lanka and Bangladesh are better teams with better away records.

After the second test: Hic Hiccup silence. umpiring errors. BCCI conspiracy not agreeing to UDRS.

After the third test: Ah, India couldn't win the series. India's dream of winning in SA has been shattered. Kallis is a better bat than Zaheer, sorry, Sachin .. Steyn better than Zaheer etc. Still India cannot win ... psst more straws please for us to clutch .. please.

Posted by vverma on (January 7, 2011, 6:51 GMT)

Just goes to show how high the stakes were. If Indians were over-agressive they would miss their first chance to draw a series in SA. There would also be a big question mark over their no 1 test status. If South Africans were over-agressive they would have lost a home series and any hope of being considered a legitimate contender for the no. 1 spot. The brilliance of cricket lies in such tough battles. If I had to see batsmen throwing their bats around in carefree nonchalance, I would be watching baseball.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 6:48 GMT)

The same "safety first" approach was highlighted in the Pakistan series SA just played. They waited till the morning of the 5th day to declare instead of declaring at the end of day 4. If SA are unwilling to push a team as brittle as Pak they cant even imagine of pushing a team that boasts a lineup like Indias.

Posted by Proteas123 on (January 7, 2011, 6:45 GMT)

@ cooljack_143 - Well put. Test cricket is a wonderful game.

Posted by desny007 on (January 7, 2011, 6:41 GMT)

what an amazing advert for the real "test" in cricket.. This series just showed that no matter how popular the t20s are getting, there are people out there who appreciate test matches.. Anyway for me the highlight was dale steyn.. I know everone is raving about kallis, but hello there is nothing new there, we know he is an accomplished cricketer, and kallis and tendulkar have just proved that with age you can probably play better than you ever have.. Coming back to steyn, he was out of this world. As a die hard team india supporter, i can say i have mixed feelings about the draw. We drew outside india on a bouncy pitch everyone wrote us off after the hammering in the 1st test, we fought back, good feeling. For the third test, we should have gone for the kill if we wanted to prove we are the no 1 team. it was 50-50 for both teams. I think indias strength is batting, they should have given it a shot. Parting shot, South africa have now not won in 3 home series. You deserve to be no 2

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 6:39 GMT)

World No1 ( Styen) and No 3 (Morkel) 33 overs for 2 wickets only on final day. How could they deny India's No1 test ranking.

Posted by cricket_fan_1 on (January 7, 2011, 6:26 GMT)

Inspite of having the world's best bowler in the side with bowler friendly home pitch conditions, SA couldn't get the visitors out on the last day. SA is an over rated team. Just because other teams are not doing great esp WI, NZL and Pak, SA is no. 2/3. SA couldn't even beat a weakened Pak team (on neutral ground). Interesting series over all with 2 results and the last match was also heading to a result, but both the captains seemed happy with a Draw. Even the WIs and the AUs in their prime have not scored 350 runs on last day. If the target was 250 runs it made sense to try and chase it, but 340 runs it was the most sensible approach by India.

Posted by satanswish on (January 7, 2011, 6:24 GMT)

Keenly contested series. Indians bounced back pretty well in second test. Their loss in Centurion test was inevitable when they didnot have any warm-up game before.

Third test, South Africans played much defensively & extended their second innings unnecessarily. Had they declared after tea on 4th day, giving tempting target to Indians this match could have been interesting.

Anyways, South Africans showed their limits which was witnessed even in Dubai tests with Pakistan where they failed to wrap opposition in 4th innings. India vs England will be real battle for No.1 spot this year, they are playing 6 tests against each other with equal conditions for both teams.

Posted by screamingeagle on (January 7, 2011, 6:19 GMT)

Great series.

Now waiting for the guys to start saying Ind only drew the series, so they should not be No.1. Ind did not go fr the win, so they should not be no.1

Sometimes you never win. lol.

You guys played great, both Ind and SA. Cricket won. Thank you for the entertainment.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 5:42 GMT)

@Jairam Amrith: Sehwag opened the batting in most trying of conditions in 2 games against world's best bowlers. His failure in the first innings can be excused and in Durban he I thought did a decent job by sticking around for 10 overs. I think that ensured India didn't get rolled over for 130 odd like in first game. In 2nd innings of all 3 games I thought he did a decent job (he was 2nd highest scorer in 2nd innings of 2nd test after Laxman). Look at his counterparts in last 2 tests. Smith and Peterson. They are technically well equipped. Why then single out Sehwag? None of the openers had a good time in this test series for obvious reasons. Even if you are technically well equipped it is difficult to survive the new ball when you are new to the crease. If ur logic is to be applied Smith and Petersen should also be dropped I guess

Posted by Nipun on (January 7, 2011, 5:29 GMT)

For all talks of South Africa not being brave enough to go for a win,can't the same thing be said of India?One full day to bat,a very reputed batting lineup,nothing in the opposition bowling attack after Steyn & Morkel,& a target of 340-which is not too big-any team which is MENTALLY NUMBER 1 would go for the target-just like Australia did,& have been doing.This series just showed that India & South Africa can just take the number 1 ranking,but they will never be able to touch the immense glory associated with the number 1 ranking,which was provided by Australia.Being the best team in the world does not mean simply taking the number 1 ranking,it means undergoing a mental revolution which makes you back yourself everytime.& that is why Australia's current predicament won't last long.Because mentally,the Australians have taken the patent of the number 1 ranking.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 5:26 GMT)

@FMatt, how about India looking at themselves, everybody is talking about the fifth day, what about the fourth. India were poor and blew it. I think India will never win a series in South Africa or Australia with their attitude shown, and I was at the ground and saw for myself. You must take off your rose tinted glasses

Posted by Devd007 on (January 7, 2011, 5:25 GMT)

I did not think that the last day was boring at all. In fact, India, especially Gambhir provided a superb display of Test cricket batting by being in total control of Steyn and Morkel. Also, Harris did create some tensions off the rough, and nearly scalped a couple. Saving a Test match on the 5th day is an art, and one would do well to remember that SA failed to do so in Kolkata in 2010, where they lost the last wicket with around 4 overs to spare. So, Kudos to India for a superb display of solid batting, and squaring the series. 1-1 is a fair result, considering that both the teams were pretty even in terms of skill.

Posted by armistry on (January 7, 2011, 5:20 GMT)

what a great series! I think cricket is a great sport to watch when you have bowling friendly conditions otherwise it is just plain boring. sehwag or raina crushing the bowlers with huge sixes, with all due respect to batters but I am sorry to say it's plain broing to watch cricket in sub-continent.

I think both teams are equally matched and could rightly share no.1 spot. Everytime sub-continent teams are judged based on how will they perform in seaming conditions overseas and India has proven since past 4-5 years that they can perform overseas. Calling england the current best team is ridiculous, let them win series in sub-continent and we will see how the world's no.1 spinner perform against India, pak or srilanka!

True India does not have bench strength to replace SRT but will never have a replacement. He is just once in a lifetime. but yeah India needs to worry more about their bowling dept.

Posted by Vintej on (January 7, 2011, 5:15 GMT)

Let us be clear that South Africa needs to look at their Batting composition. If we take away the first test, all the top order except one Mr. Jacques Kallis, flopped. It was only Kallis , who stood between India & Victory.

In the second test, he failed (one run-out and one to the ball of 2010), look what happened. South Africa lost. Their batsman cannot play under pressure (maybe Smith may) and deliver!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 5:06 GMT)

India killed any result for this match with their slow batting in 1st innings itself. It was boring to see Sachin and Gambhir playing as if they were tailenders in the 1st inngs. And I did not like the way Zaheer bowled - starting bowing in 125kph and never went beyond 128kph. And compare him to Steyn, who was bowling in 135kph and then accelerated to 150kph when he felt nothing was happening. Zaheer shud have bowled around 135kph. Harbhajan was right in saying that fast bowlers denied any support to him in 2nd inngs. Ishant and Sreesanth followed Zaheer in the same way. Disappointing to see that India played like no.8 in this test match rather than no.1. India, it seems, is more concerned about ranking than victories. When Aus was no1, they always played like no1. India cannot be compared with Aus on the instincts.

Posted by zapper22 on (January 7, 2011, 4:43 GMT)

So the series ends in a 1-1 draw and it seems that the Indians ---"No. 1" team in the world are happy with drawing series against lesser ranked opponents rather than winning series. And Firdose captures it in her article -" The statistics were all in South Africa's favour. A team had only chased more than 300 once at Newlands. Not any team, but Australia at the height of their powers in 2002." - This statement clearly describes the gulf that existed between the overpowering aussie team and the rest. Now, the No.1 team at the height of its power scores at 2 rpo and draws the game. At the end of this series, we have a No.1 who has never won a series in SA, Aus or SL. I guess the no risk no reward statement is as true for India as for SA.

Posted by Fast_Track_Bully on (January 7, 2011, 4:28 GMT)

Before the series SA supporters predict a 3-0 whitewash and predict matches will end in 3 days. And they called Indian batsmen as flat track bullies and now what? SA batsmen proved that they are -good for nothing. And they are yet to learn how to play spin- even in their home pitches!

Posted by ratedstfu44 on (January 7, 2011, 4:26 GMT)

coward india.... this is called no 1 team??? if Zimbabwe were in india;s place on 5th day they would do same...then whats different between two teams>>>??? iam not agree with author......the win was needed for IND..not for SA...coz they never won here......

the pitch was flat...350 was chase able ....they coward is the right word to use...

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 4:05 GMT)

Nice article. Even Allan Donald said that SA should have declared early and set India 280 to win; making India bat for 40 minutes on day 4. That would have been a risk, but it would have also given SA more overs to bowl to the Indian batsmen, especially the tired India batsmen on day 4. A disappointing end to a great series in terms of cricket, but a satisfying result for India.Though I was quite disappointed with the defensive approach on day 4 and the insipid bowling especially of Ishant Sharma who has become a serious liability and should be dropped rightaway.India remains no.1 but with a bowling attack overly reliant on Zaheer Khan. Lets see how the famed batting line-up performs in old Blighty in July-August against the best bowling attack in the world.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 3:48 GMT)

A very biased perspective from the writer, of what has been a fantastic series. SA have never been positive in their declarations. I still remember a test match in India's tour to SA in 2001, when Pollock batted on & on until the lead touched some 500-odd. The match ended a draw. And back then, India weren't even half as good as they are now. Having said that, Dhoni himself was more defensive than Smith: if he had attacked SA more in their second innings, India would have won this test match with a session to spare.

Posted by AP_Devils on (January 7, 2011, 3:36 GMT)

Have all those so called experts that bragged about "India cannot take 20 SAf wickets" after the first test have gone into hiding ? Well, India not only 20 wickets TWICE in the series, SAf failed to do so on their own "SPORTING PITCHES". For me there was only one winner of this series - Team India. Smith was so afraid of the "C" word that he shut the match off with his refusal to declare. Chokers tag is still going to follow them. SHOW SOME GUTS Mr. Smith or let Kallis be the deserving captain - only SAf player with some balls.

Posted by ILuvTests on (January 7, 2011, 3:17 GMT)

Firdose Moonda, good article. I was expecting a declaration once Kallis got to his century - at least thns, I thought. But SA showed they have not yet got the mental strength. By the way, I am rather amused at some of the comments here, as they show that a lot of cricket watchers are completely oriented towards the short form. How many watched the last day? And saw the bowling that SA did? In tests you do not have the "luxury" of a wide a foot outside off or anywhere outside leg. If both teams played in the ODI style, the batting team could go for a win. In tests unless you have a "pata" (in Gavaskar's words) wicket, how do you expect a run rate of 4 on the last day, when the bowling captain has a lot of options to cut down the run rate. On the whole, well done India, you showed mental strength. I personally think Sachin's rate of scoring (or lack of it) was the best comment on this whole state of affairs.

Posted by bala on (January 7, 2011, 3:12 GMT)

1) I dont think India deserves to be #1 the way they played. Higher rank teams back themselves take high risks and thats why get high rewards. If you remember ht eold Australia used to attack even from being 6 down and win. 2) For the first time, the Indian team appears stronger in the field than in paper. In paper, our quicks?! were no match for SAffers. Plus there were enough questions on batting. But I guess we pulled off remarkably after losing. 3) I think 3 things contributed to this draw. One our inability to force things after they were 111/6 in 2nd innings. Two, Kallis not being available to bowl. Three, Sehwag. All the Sehwag's big knocks play on rival captains mind. Its easy to say he was in bad form. A maverick is always one game away from destroying the opposition. Its tough to discount him when the series is at stake with a bowler less.

Posted by bhanumech on (January 7, 2011, 2:42 GMT)

It's disappointed Indians but the situation was like that.Sehwag might have done well. Any way both the teams played with gumption and it will be a good experience to India before world cup.our batsmen got good experience in facing Steyn and Morkel at the same time our bowlers got some savvy while bowling to Amla and Kallis.all the best to both teams for upcoming Mega series in India.

Posted by StPat on (January 7, 2011, 1:52 GMT)

Ultimately, the series was shared for two reasons...firstly, Graeme Smith remains an ill-equipped captain incapable of deviating from the carefully-crafted (in the meeting rooms, with his coaches, etc.) Plan A when it fails to deliver. We've seen the movie many times, now we need to see Smith disappear as captain (not batsman) and have an intelligent man, Hashim Amla, step up and take over the captaincy. And secondly, we need a spinner, not a slow, containing bowler. Harris offers nothing; thankfully Imran Tahir may be the solution. Don't despair, SA, with Amla as captain, Tahir as genuine spinner; number one may well be within reach.

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (January 7, 2011, 1:48 GMT)

I agree with Deepanjan Datta. Both teams did what they had resources to do. Neither team is as great as the Aus and W.I. teams of the past and as the article stated, Harris is not an attacking spinner which is what would have been needed to crack a quality Ind line up going for a draw. Going for a draw is not entertaining but you cannot fault either team for playing for 1. Ind have never drawn a test in SA and by Dhoni's reaction, it is clear that they value it highly and Graeme Smith surely would not have wanted to be the ONLY SA captain in history to lose a home series to them.

Posted by vineetkarthi on (January 7, 2011, 1:39 GMT)

India failed twice in the series and the result is a 1-1 - a flop show in the first innings of the first test and another against Kallis in the 2nd innings of the third test... Minus that India has generally shown great character. In contrast, SA lost its nerve at the most critical moment in the series to end up drawing the series. Precisely why I think, SA is a weak contender for the World Cup - they just have not got out of their habit of choking under pressure. England has the best chance (if they continue to be consistent) of becoming No.1 test team...

Posted by henchart on (January 7, 2011, 1:27 GMT)

SA missed a trick by not asking India to bat on day 4 evening.A target of 300 was enough.Indians would never have chased anything over 250 anyways.A couple of wkts on day 4 evening would have left Indians with8 wkts and 90 overs to save the game on the last day.On the other hand Indians should have wiped out SA once Boucher was dismissed.Steyn and Morkel were given far too many easy runs.All in all ,both the teams are to be blamed for making the last day of the series an anti climax.More so SA because they are not known to opt for softer options which the Indians always do.Remember Sydney 2004?

Posted by cooljack_143 on (January 7, 2011, 0:39 GMT)

friends this is test cricket not one dayer to hit what ever comes on the bat.This is a fair choice for draw,what more you guys expect from a test cricket.Well if you dont have patience then why dont you watch 20/20 or a 50 over game instead of test cricket.Com eon just enjoy the batting of kallis and tendulkar, vvs and gautam, amla and devilliers.Steyn and zaheer, harbhajan and morkel.You get to see them only in tests in other formats they come and disappear for the sake of hard hitting and quench for runs, but here you get to see their talents as players.Enjoy cricket.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2011, 0:08 GMT)

India could only have made an effort to chase the target if Sehwag had performed but he has been woeful in this series. All the talk of see-ball-hit-ball, hand-eye coordination etc came to naught because the Protean bowlers suckered him time and again and the pitches did not allow him to swipe across the line as he does in the sub-continent. Maybe the time has come for him to go.

Posted by braindead_rocker on (January 6, 2011, 23:46 GMT)

At the end of the day, both teams justified their rankings at the top of test cricket...This was a great series...Both teams played good and interesting test cricket....And that is what matters at the end.

Posted by Raju_Iyer on (January 6, 2011, 23:39 GMT)

Wow! The first article by Firdose in the entire series in which she has bravely spoken her mind and raised good points rather than going with the flow.To me this series proved two things : 1) Mind games are meaningless, none of Graeme Smith's verbal bravado helped them 2) SA are still some way off from usurping India's #1 rank 3) This Indian team may not be the greatest ever, but they are a good head and shoulders above any other current team.

Posted by SoftwareStar on (January 6, 2011, 23:32 GMT)

@Deepanjan Datta i agree 100% with u. after 4 days of beautiful cricket, the last day really killed it. i was awake the whole night watching it but was irritated by India's approach. I was happy with their initial consolidation after Viru went, but at some stage they should have accelerated. This is what differentiates champion No. 1 teams like Aus of 90/00, WI of 80/90s who would look for the kill always. With those teams, u never had to consult Wisden or cricinfo or any statistics book to realize that they were the best for a particular year. However, 5 years from now, we would have to look back at cricinfo in order to determine "who was the no. 1 side in 2010?" If this were the Ashes, SA would have retained the Ashes since they have won the last series in SA, while the next 3 series were drawn. Dhoni's men should have put in the effort to go for a win, and back out only after they lost 3-4 quick wickets. losing 3 wkts and scoring @ 2 rpo is RUBBISH cricket

Posted by FMatt on (January 6, 2011, 23:09 GMT)

@Nerk, It was THREE wickets for 166, not four on the final day. Don't blame India for not looking to chase down 340 in 90 overs when SA didn't chase down 303 with more than 100 overs in hand. This is just another instance of SA playing it safe and showing mental weakness yet again :-). India's 5th day batting on the other hand actually is an excellent display of their mental strength. In fact, take the 1st test, SA wins toss, puts India to bat under excellent bowling conditions, bundles them out cheaply but India put up excellent resistance in the 2nd innings. What happened to SA in the 2nd test when they again won the toss but this time, were bowled out cheaply in response to India's modest 1st innings total? They failed to chase 303! Still questioning India's Test ranking and ability to play in SA, are we? How about some introspection by SA instead?

Posted by spinkingKK on (January 6, 2011, 22:56 GMT)

I agree with Deepanjan Datta. Both captains lacked the killer instinct. If Harbhajan was the captain, India would have gone for the win at least until they lost 4 wickets.

Posted by spinkingKK on (January 6, 2011, 22:53 GMT)

South Africa did right in batting as long as they can setting a target as big as they can. Indian batting got the guy called Sehwag and he can wipe off anything very quickly. So, eventhough sehwag failed in the series, his presence did make a huge difference to the South African captain's decision. If South African bowling was good enough they should have been able to get 10 indian wickets or close to it on the fifth day. Having said that, if India was under Kapildev, they would have gone for the kill. With a batting line-up which has Harbhajan Singh in a form of his life batting at 8, India could have gone for it. It looked like even Sehwag wasn't interested in chasing it down. Sehwag played like a tail ender and paid the price. However, full praise to Gambhir for ensuring another draw to India. He has done it in the past and he got the right approach to play for a draw. Not to attack too much, but not to be too defensive.

Posted by   on (January 6, 2011, 22:46 GMT)

Its all good and well to say go for broke, but if you havent the tools you have no chance. It was easy for the old Australia because they had the likes of Warne or McGill. I cant believe these articles are treating Dhoni with kid gloves, are the journalists to scared to criticize Dhoni

Posted by Nerk on (January 6, 2011, 22:34 GMT)

What a wonderful series. Fourteen days of brilliant cricket and then one horrible one. Both teams could have won going into the final day, but neither wanted to it seemed. So what happened, four wickets for 166 runs in a days play. Disappointing. Well done to both teams for the series though, particularly India who's players really stepped up to secure their first series draw in Sth. Africa. Well done.

Posted by   on (January 6, 2011, 22:12 GMT)

Taking nothing away from two teams who displayed enough moments of brilliance individually as well .. the end result came down to who would go for the broke. Australia at the height of their powers, or West Indies of 80s would just have a tilt regardless and somehow find individuals who rise to the occasion - a Viv, Gilly or Greenidge to turn a challenging chase to a saunter; a Warne, McGrath or Ambrose to jailbreak a draw to a victory - accordingly the captains would mercilessly prey on that moment of weakness from the opponent, that one chink of self-doubt. Dhoni and Smith both have teams to pounce on a winning situation - but the reason they can't stop murmurs about their standing is 'cuz they chose to play bankers when they should be bringing out the punter.

Posted by   on (January 6, 2011, 22:09 GMT)

I strongly disagree that Morne Morkel was inconsistent. With the exception of one spell, he bowled phenomenally well, and was very unlucky not to have taken a number of wickets, both here and in Durban. In many cases he was simply too good for the batsmen -- I don't think anyone made his opponents play and miss as much as Morne did this series. His returns are not indicative of how dangerous he was, which is perhaps a testament to the skill and temperament (and, yes, also a bit of luck) of the Indian batting line-up, particularly Gambhir, Laxman, and of course Tendulkar.

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Tour Results
South Africa v India at Centurion - Jan 23, 2011
South Africa won by 33 runs (D/L method)
South Africa v India at Port Elizabeth - Jan 21, 2011
South Africa won by 48 runs (D/L method)
South Africa v India at Cape Town - Jan 18, 2011
India won by 2 wickets (with 10 balls remaining)
South Africa v India at Johannesburg - Jan 15, 2011
India won by 1 run
South Africa v India at Durban - Jan 12, 2011
South Africa won by 135 runs
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News | Features Last 3 days