South Africa take the stats honours
Despite the last day in Cape Town being anticlimactic, the three-Test series was a pulsating one, and the 1-1 result was probably a fair indication of how well matched the two sides were. India's meek surrender and South Africa's complete domination in the first Test was followed by a superlative response by VVS Laxman and the Indian bowlers in the Boxing Day Test in Durban, a venue where India had not won a single Test. The last match belonged to Jacques Kallis, with twin centuries enabling the hosts to wriggle out of a tricky situation.
For South Africa, it meant another series where they haven't been able to force a win. They have generally been a dominant side at home, but their recent results have been disappointing. They have not won a single series at home since their win over Bangladesh in 2008. A loss against Australia in early 2009 was followed by a tight contest against England. The series ended 1-1 after England managed to squeeze out draws after being nine down in the first and third Tests.
For India, on the other hand, the series was a huge improvement on their previous results in South Africa. They did not win a single Test in their first three series in South Africa. While the gulf between the two teams was not huge in the first ever series in 1992-93, India were thoroughly outclassed on the next two tours. They triumphed in a Test in South Africa for the first time on their fourth trip in 2006-07, but went on to lose a close series 2-1. This time, India showed far more fight, though the margin of defeat in Centurion meant South Africa's numbers were much better than India's across the three matches.
|Series||India||South Africa||Difference (runs/wicket)|
South Africa's top-class pace attack
With all three pitches helping seam and swing, the performances of the fast bowlers were key in this series. While Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel destroyed India in Centurion, the Indian bowlers led by Sreesanth came back strongly in Durban. Overall, though, the South African fast bowlers were far better. Steyn was by far the best bowler on either side, picking up 21 wickets at just over 17 with two five-wicket hauls. Morkel, who ran through India in the first Test, troubled most batsmen with steep bounce and pace, and was unlucky not to finish with more wickets. Lonwabo Tsotsobe picked up important wickets at times, though he averaged nearly 49.
Zaheer Khan, who missed the first Test, wasn't quite in top form, but still managed ten wickets. Sreesanth, who picked up his second five-wicket haul in South Africa in Durban, was quite inconsistent, though. Ishant Sharma was the biggest disappointment for India, finishing with just seven wickets at an average over 48.
In the spin department, though, Harbhajan Singh was excellent. He picked up 15 wickets in the series, including his best away figures of 7 for 120 in the third Test. The South African specialist spinner, Paul Harris, was never really threatening, picking up just four wickets at over 64.
Steyn's record against India has been exceptional and he proved this once again with a stunning display. His genuine pace and movement made it extremely difficult for any batsman to handle him effectively. He dismissed Virender Sehwag three times in six innings, preventing India from getting away to good starts. He also accounted for Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and MS Dhoni on more than one occasion.
|Batsman||Runs scored||Balls faced||4s||6s||Dismissals|
Harbhajan's improved display
Harbhajan was India's leading wicket-taker, with spells of 4 for 10 in Durban and 7 for 120 in the third Test in Cape Town. Alviro Petersen fell to him three times and Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla twice each. Kallis played him superbly throughout, though, even employing the reverse sweep on occasions to counter the turn. Kallis, the top run-getter in the series with 498 runs, was not dismissed even once by Harbhajan in the three matches.
|Batsman||Runs scored||Balls faced||4s||6s||Dismissals|
|AB de Villers||81||153||5||2||1|
India's best in away wins
Laxman, with his 96 in the second innings in Durban, helped set up another Indian away win. He has made ten fifty-plus scores in Indian away wins (matches not involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) since 2000, a record he shares with Rahul Dravid. His average in away wins is second only to Dravid's 64.77. However, his performance in the team second innings in wins is unmatched; he has five fifty-plus scores, followed by Dravid who has three.
South Africa dominate batting
South Africa were the better batting unit in the series with four century stands and eight fifty partnerships. India, on the other hand, had a far tougher time stringing up partnerships, and the middle order (wickets 4 to 6) failed to put on a single fifty stand. The lower order however was effective, contributing vital runs in the second and third Tests. The Indian opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Sehwag were less successful this time with just one century stand in four innings. Dravid had a poor series, averaging just 20. Except in the second innings of the final Test when he put on 79 with Gambhir, he was not involved in a single fifty-plus stand.
Kallis' superb form meant that he was involved in three of the four century stands for South Africa. He was involved in two 200-plus stands with AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla. The opening pair of Smith and Petersen was quite successful, averaging over 52 with one century and two half-century stands.
|South Africa(wickets 1-3)||46.93||230||2||4|
|India (wickets 1-3)||38.44||176||2||1|
|South Africa (wickets 4-6)||42.38||224||1||2|
|India (wickets 4-6)||24.40||48||0||0|
|South Africa (wickets 7-10)||25.87||103||1||2|
|India (wickets 7-10)||25.00||172||1||2|