South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 2nd day December 19, 2013

Tenacious India seamers rewrite script

The team has slipped from promising positions in overseas Tests in the past, but the Zaheer Khan-led bowling attack helped India maintain a firm grip on the second day
44

Dravid: India recognised and won critical moment

The first session of the second day had a bad old feeling for India. A movie seen before. A movie fresh in the mind.

In the first Test of their tour of Australia in 2011-12, India were 214 for 2 just before stumps on day two. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid got two beauties either side of stumps, and India collapsed. India still came back in the match - they had Australia effectively at 78 for 4 in the second innings - but bowled poorly to Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting. Never to come back in the series.

In the first Test of their tour of England, India troubled the hosts on day one but lost Zaheer Khan to injury. On the second day they had England at 62 for 5, but when they came back from lunch with a win still a remote possibility, India bowled Suresh Raina instead of an on-fire Ishant Sharma, and another big moment was lost. Two more big moments were lost in the next Test - the Stuart Broad-Graeme Swann partnership, and then a collapse with a big first-innings lead in sight. It all spiralled out of control after that.

On both tours, with those big moments lost, India didn't have the intensity, at times the fitness, and at others the skill, to come back. Days in the field became longer, batting innings passed in a blink of the eye, and India just kept running on the treadmill of defeat. After giving a good account of themselves on the first day - better than was expected but only good enough to keep the match in balance - India collapsed to a mix of good bowling and meek batting, in Zaheer's case. Zaheer came back well with the ball, almost had who is believed to be his bunny, Graeme Smith, but the catch was dropped. When they went into tea, India had only 162 runs in the bank, and were looking at a long South Africa batting line-up.

It was natural to be put in mind of the previous two tours. The two big moments were lost. Except that this time the 118 for 1 at tea did disservice to how well India had bowled. They had learned the lesson from the South Africa quicks, who bowled too short on day one and got all the wickets with fuller lengths on day two. Just that they had been unlucky at times. It would be a test of character, and also skill, to come back in the final session and keep the game alive.

The big difference here was that India still had a fit and intense three-man pace attack - the spinner not required so far might play a part in the final innings - and a lively pitch to work with. The last time Zaheer bowled more than 20 overs in a day's play was at MCG in 2010, when India lost those big moments. Even then his fitness and intensity were not quite in the clear. Today, after India had batted for more than an hour at the start of the day, Zaheer sent down 22 overs, the last as intense as the first, despite all the plays and misses and the drop catch. He was finally rewarded with Smith's wicket, 49 runs later than he should have been.

The rudder this attack badly needed had been provided by this new and fit Zaheer. He was not that great in the field, but the man has to pace himself. Zaheer has earned the right to such small allowances in an imperfect attack. Ishant and Mohammed Shami were no less intense. They kept bowling up, and not just floating it. There was a lot of emphasis on "right areas" in press conferences from India, but South African pitches need more. The more came from them. It took tenacity to keep at it despite being denied the results in the middle sessions. As it happens with Ishant, albeit not frequently enough, once he gets on a roll, things keep falling in place. Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis in two balls is as good as it gets in Test cricket. Shami delivered JP Duminy and AB de Villiers in the same over. India had come back from having lost the big moment. Those horrible memories were now being put back in the filing drawer.

It was not just the intensity. There was skill involved. On an outfield that had taken a lot of rain - fielders were slipping at its edge - India did something South Africa couldn't: reverse the ball. That added to the doubt for the batsmen. The ball was maintained superbly. The series was alive. This was reassurance that Virat Kohli's hundred on day one was not just a flicker. Even when Vernon Philander and Faf du Plessis got into a partnership, the field didn't spread out as was the case on those two previous two tours. The bowlers' intensity and fitness played a big part in it as did the fact that the pitch was offering some movement even with a 60-over-old ball.

That catch dropped by Rohit Sharma might still prove to be a big moment lost. Through that 67-run partnership between Philander and du Plessis, India will know beating South Africa - a 13-man team through the all-round roles of Kallis and de Villiers - in a Test is an incredibly difficult task. An extra batsman or an extra bowler pop out of nowhere to make you fight that extra fight. However, India have already not only exceeded expectations, they have done more than their bit to make this a classical Test.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 20, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    I have been saying this for a long time now and say it again. If the South Africans are going to prepare seaming and bouncy tracks, they too will suffer, as Indians bowlers, right from the time of Kapil Dev, Madan Lal and Roger Binny have done well when it seams and swings.

  • on December 20, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    of course ZAHEER ISHANT AND SHAMI wil do it

  • coarsecricketer on December 20, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    I never understand why the Indians who comment here are so hard on their team and individual players. I'm a South African fan, but I think the Indian team has done a brilliant job, both batting and bowling, in conditions that are unfamiliar to them. They are providing an excellent contest forthe no. 1 Test side. May the best team win!

  • TPnin on December 20, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    @GRVJPR:

    275 in last innings will too much (sic) for this overrated number1 team

    only rain can save south africa

    Just wanted to preserve these nuggets for posterity!

  • stormy16 on December 20, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    Yes India have done really well and exceeded all expectations and full credit to them but its only day 2 and so much of the game still remains. I think this article has jumped the gun assuming India win or draw the test and India would not drop the ball when it counts in a test that the opponent is 6 down in the first innings! A bit pre-mature to be beating these drums I reckon.

  • analyseabhishek on December 20, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Indian fans like me would be happy the team is at least fighting hard abroad- but the point remains about losing the key moments. Sloppy fielding such as the one by Rohit Sharma could be one such point where all the hard work was undone- everyone, including Indian fans, knows Faf DuPlessis!

  • soorajiyer on December 20, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Smith, Amla and FAF are second innings big scorers! I think we lost a plot by playing too defensively yday morning. Dhoni doesnt have the technique for it anyway!

    But I am already very happy, atleast SA are not running away with a win. We are putting up a wonderful fight and thats all I expect this young team to do. We will take SA down the next series once we get the experience. Good luck team India.

    But a bit taken aback by comments that we will win this match easily!!!!

  • on December 20, 2013, 6:46 GMT

    Day 3 will be crucial. If Ind can prevent SA from taking a big lead, and follow it up with some decent batting and take a lead of 200+, SA can come under serious pressure on Day 5 with the cracks in the pitch widening offering uneven bounce and some help for Ashwin.

  • Naresh28 on December 20, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    Moments are lost in the game when our fielders drop catches. This is the reason why sometimes you see Dhoni retaining good fielders like Raina and Jadeja in the test team. Rohit and Ashwin dropped catches which could influence the result. We saw it in the ODI as well when off Yadav's bowling a catch was dropped. The opposition dont waste those - INDIA DOES. The bowlers are then forced to work extra hard for the next chance. How many times have we seen the tailenders snatch the game from us? Our tailenders hardly contribute with the bat accept when playing in India!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • T20Fun on December 20, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    I think as far as positives are concerned that India has taken a huge stride forward. I still expect SA to win this mainly because they won't bowl nor bat as poorly as they did in the first innings. But India has given them a scare. The bowling was spot on and the batting gutsy. A 100 run lead would have put India in the drivers but with the lead finally whittling down to around 20 or even a deficit I think the game starts evenly and it's a 2-innings shootout.

  • on December 20, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    I have been saying this for a long time now and say it again. If the South Africans are going to prepare seaming and bouncy tracks, they too will suffer, as Indians bowlers, right from the time of Kapil Dev, Madan Lal and Roger Binny have done well when it seams and swings.

  • on December 20, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    of course ZAHEER ISHANT AND SHAMI wil do it

  • coarsecricketer on December 20, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    I never understand why the Indians who comment here are so hard on their team and individual players. I'm a South African fan, but I think the Indian team has done a brilliant job, both batting and bowling, in conditions that are unfamiliar to them. They are providing an excellent contest forthe no. 1 Test side. May the best team win!

  • TPnin on December 20, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    @GRVJPR:

    275 in last innings will too much (sic) for this overrated number1 team

    only rain can save south africa

    Just wanted to preserve these nuggets for posterity!

  • stormy16 on December 20, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    Yes India have done really well and exceeded all expectations and full credit to them but its only day 2 and so much of the game still remains. I think this article has jumped the gun assuming India win or draw the test and India would not drop the ball when it counts in a test that the opponent is 6 down in the first innings! A bit pre-mature to be beating these drums I reckon.

  • analyseabhishek on December 20, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Indian fans like me would be happy the team is at least fighting hard abroad- but the point remains about losing the key moments. Sloppy fielding such as the one by Rohit Sharma could be one such point where all the hard work was undone- everyone, including Indian fans, knows Faf DuPlessis!

  • soorajiyer on December 20, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Smith, Amla and FAF are second innings big scorers! I think we lost a plot by playing too defensively yday morning. Dhoni doesnt have the technique for it anyway!

    But I am already very happy, atleast SA are not running away with a win. We are putting up a wonderful fight and thats all I expect this young team to do. We will take SA down the next series once we get the experience. Good luck team India.

    But a bit taken aback by comments that we will win this match easily!!!!

  • on December 20, 2013, 6:46 GMT

    Day 3 will be crucial. If Ind can prevent SA from taking a big lead, and follow it up with some decent batting and take a lead of 200+, SA can come under serious pressure on Day 5 with the cracks in the pitch widening offering uneven bounce and some help for Ashwin.

  • Naresh28 on December 20, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    Moments are lost in the game when our fielders drop catches. This is the reason why sometimes you see Dhoni retaining good fielders like Raina and Jadeja in the test team. Rohit and Ashwin dropped catches which could influence the result. We saw it in the ODI as well when off Yadav's bowling a catch was dropped. The opposition dont waste those - INDIA DOES. The bowlers are then forced to work extra hard for the next chance. How many times have we seen the tailenders snatch the game from us? Our tailenders hardly contribute with the bat accept when playing in India!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • T20Fun on December 20, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    I think as far as positives are concerned that India has taken a huge stride forward. I still expect SA to win this mainly because they won't bowl nor bat as poorly as they did in the first innings. But India has given them a scare. The bowling was spot on and the batting gutsy. A 100 run lead would have put India in the drivers but with the lead finally whittling down to around 20 or even a deficit I think the game starts evenly and it's a 2-innings shootout.

  • on December 20, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    As I had mentioned in my comment yesterday, India is a bowler short. The tired bowlers let the 7th wicket pair to prosper. If we had Yadav in place of Ashwin, we would have ended up with a lead of around 100 runs. On the positive side, I think Ishant was the best bowler on show on both sides. However, India can expect a torrid 2-innings now. SA underbowled in the first innings (surprising considering the phenomenal bowling by Steyn in the One-day series) and they may not show such mercy in the 2nd innings.

  • ChuckyDoll on December 20, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    This is precisely where India has lost the grip on the tests in the past. Tail-end scores 100-120 odd runs and India gives up a lead of 80 odd runs. That's a no-no. Can India score 350+ in a innings on this series. Only if they can, will they stand a chance of winning.

  • Greatest_Game on December 20, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    @ GRVJPR: you will eat these words you wrote: "India winning this easily, only rain can save south africa."

    NOTHING is ever guaranteed in test cricket.

  • on December 20, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    this is extremly improved bowling from india... normally india would bowl, back of a length outside off stump on most occasion waiting for batsmen to make mistake... but this day, they atacked the stumps and made sure that they were bowling on a right length..... extremly happy to see ishant and shami pick the wickets.... ishant was always a good bowlers.... but he was made to bowl continuosly on the flat decks with no mentor along his side like zak who was in and out of team often.... hope zaheer stays fit till theWC15.... this team cannot be aforded to ignore anymore. especially the batting department..... with pujara, kohli, rohit, rahane as a back bone of middle order, and ashwin has 2 centuries in his book.... we can totally rely on vijay after his careful bating in first innings... shikar will learn for sure....

  • abhijeetdesai4 on December 20, 2013, 4:43 GMT

    Well done blue boys. All the seamers did well. I think for the next match we should drop ashwin and bring back yadav in the side, as SA pitches only support pace and swing. Yadav would be great addition. Hope to see India win the series and come back to home in style.

  • Lodhisingh on December 20, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    @Shiv Shankar, yes we are the number 2 team in the world. but we r playing the number 1 team in the world in their backyard with a batting line up where no one has played even 20 tests. so, i wud say watever u want the team to aim, they hav done immensely well so far.

  • GRVJPR on December 20, 2013, 4:14 GMT

    I am telling you guys again. India is going to win this match easily. South Africa got few tail enders out yesterday and think they have good bowling. That same length will disappear when like of kohli and dhawan go on attack. Attacking cricket is the mantra now. Dhawan should not change his style. He should be given license to go after south african bowling. There are many batsmen in this line up who can defend when needed. Dhawan should go hell for leather and kick the egos of south african bowlers. Not always smith will ride his luck and not always phlander will make 50, thats 110 runs out of the way. If India bowls as well as they have in first innings 275 in last innings will too much for this overrated number1 team who is happy to beat medicre pakitsan and sri lanka. India winning this easily, only rain can save south africa.

  • satzzz on December 20, 2013, 4:12 GMT

    Well what a day of play. India did bowl splendidly as asked by the skipper. Zak, Ishant bowled with lot of control with the new ball and once the ball started reversing, Shami joined the party. We all know how hostile he is when the ball reverses. Ashwin will join the party in 4th innings as the pitch cracks down. Fielding is a big let down. Slip catches needs to be addressed badly. Vijay and Pujara stands in slips for Tamil Nadu and Sourashtra Ranji teams. It would be better if they are trained better to take that position for tests.

    Last hour of play is what Dhoni has been stressing out for sometime now. THE NEED OF 5th BOWLER(all-rounder). That makes a huge difference as the bowlers don't get tired during end of day. Jaddu did this job beautifully in Indian conditions. Bhuvi would have been handy but Dhoni is still not convinced with his batting. If we had one such player Dhoni would have dictated the terms on his bowlers's performance yesterday.

  • rajuramki on December 20, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    The Indian team may be short on experience but certainly not short of the will to fight it out . The Indian bowlers , for once , exceeded all expectations and no expert can write this team off . SA will be bowled out for 250 , leaving India with a lead of 30 runs . If India manages a score of around 250 in their second innings , it will be very difficult for SA to win this test . On the whole, this test has really proved to be the one between the 1st and the 2nd ranked teams.As an ardent supporter of team India , I wish that India beat SA in this test, which will make the second test even more absorbing .

  • himanshu.team on December 20, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    India have delivered 'better than expected' results on two counts: Batting and Bowling. However, they were below par in the fielding department. They dropped two catches at critical intervals. Kallis is not in a great form and was out for a golden duck. If Ashwin had taken Smith's catch, then and if Kallis got out cheaply after that, there would have been immense pressure on SA. India would have been jubilant and motivated to attack more in that period. Post that if Rohit held onto to his catch towards the end of the day, India could have walked out much happier with at least the tail exposed, if not picking up one or two more after that dismissal. The fielders have to pull up their socks against quality sides in their own backyard. As it is, taking 20 wickets in a test is not easy. By dropping such 'routine' chances, fielders are forcing their bowlers to take around 25 wickets, which can mean the difference between winning or loosing the series.

  • tests_the_best on December 20, 2013, 3:16 GMT

    Rahane is right when he said they need to set a target of 275 for SA. Even if India manage a small 1st innings lead, there's every chance SA might bundle India out for a paltry score and not that many to chase. That's why it was important to keep SA under 200 and get a valuable 80 odd run lead. But with the pitch cracking up, 4th innings chase might be tough.

    Also worth keeping in mind that the big 2nd wicket partnership between Smith and Amla was a very streaky one, lots of edges, missed catch and so on. All in all, Ind bowlers bowled quite well except the last hour. Philander seems to be revelling in the one man role of pulling SA back in the game. Should be a cracker of a test!

  • jimbond on December 20, 2013, 2:44 GMT

    I'm surprised that I am not hearing cries of "pitch not suitable for test cricket"! Today, it was quite unplayable- the change in pitch conditions can be assessed from the fact that Rahane and Dhoni were pretty comfortable yesterday, but struggled today. Smith was extremely fortunate to reach a half century. The main positive for India is that Ishant Sharma is bowling well- so much so that he is getting wickets either bowled or LBW- one would have thought it well beyond his capabilities to keep the ball on the stumps in such conditions.

  • sray23 on December 20, 2013, 2:23 GMT

    India, well done boys! Showing great fight in the test so far. Keep up the effort. Lets forget about the last session dropped catch, these things happen. Keep the ball full, never overdo the bouncers, keep patience and things will happen. This will be a great Test match. India batsmen (except Kohli) also need to come to the party and bat well in the 2nd innings. But great match so far.

  • on December 20, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    Even after watching the first innings, people want Vijay to go rather than Rohit or Dhawan.. The situation India found itself on day 2 morning was entirely caused by three people.. Kohli, Dhawan and Rohit.. All the three threw their wickets away.. Kohli went one further and ran Pujara out.. You would have needed a crowbar to pull Pujara out of this one.. He had just fixed himself to the pitch much the same way Dravid would have.. And what does Kohli do?? Run him out and after reaching a 100 go for the airborne cover-drive.. He asks when to go for shots if not at 120.. You don't go for shots when you almost have the number one team on the mat.. You go for them once you have them on the mat..

  • inswing on December 20, 2013, 1:41 GMT

    The two easy dropped catches will haunt India. Ashwin is simply not a slip fielder. They are trying to hide him in the field, but slips are the words place to hide someone. The extra 49 runs to Smith are crucial, and so is the drop by Rohit. There has never been a good Test team without good slip fielders. India has gotten very lucky breaks in this Test: (1) There was much less lateral movement on the first day when India batted. The second day pitch was much harder to bat on due to rain, but SA took the brunt of that. (2) Tahir/Duminy gave away some easy 70 runs free, this will not happen again in the second innings. India will likely end up losing this Test in spite of this, because of dropped catches.

  • Nampally on December 20, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    India shocked SA both in batting & bowling with unexpectedly good performance. Only area they fell short was in fielding, particularly catching. As it has been said many times before, Catches Win Matches! SA had dame luck on their side especially a very chancy innings by Smith who had numerous LBW calls against him + edged many of his shots + dropped catches against him. He did fall to finally to who else but ZAK- as the Media calls him Zak's Bunny. Even Amla had a charmed life before he decided to leave Ishant's ball well alone & Ondia shouted "Well Left" Sir! Jokes aside, it was a fine demonstration of seam bowling by all 3 bowling in 135 KPH range & attacking the batsmen. If onoly India had 4th seamer when they were tiring towards the end of the day, things might have been even better. Philander capitalized on it & hit his way to rescue SA batting from <200 total. Gaining the first innings lead & building upon it should be the India's priority. Good Luck guys- well done on Day 2!

  • on December 20, 2013, 0:10 GMT

    India should let the performances speak for themselves .. India has done pretty well .. 'exceeded expectations' .. well we had very low expectations to begin with so possibly we might be happy with this outcome .. but as a test side supposedly Number 2 in the world, we should be thinking about putting our best foot forward instead of being satisfied a bit too early. India has slipped out on already 2-3 big moments in this game. 255/5 after day one and the advantage could not be made bigger. South Africa were 145/6 and we are yet to finish off the tail. I agree we cant be asking for perfection but my point that is where we should be aiming for. Especially it could mean only a little extra push to achieve that and I believe this team is very much capable of doing that. we should not be too near-sighted and complacent with the little successes we have had so far. India's bowling fightback and Kohli's hundred are the great plus but need to look at weaker areas. KUDOS Team India. Good Job.

  • Lodhisingh on December 19, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    given absolutely no chance by the experts and skeptics alike, even more so after the ODIs, this Indian team has done enough already in this test to show that they are not going to roll over and die. they have pushed the number 1 team in the world with the so called greatest pace attack at home into survival mode just in 2 days. Well done team India! keep it going.

  • on December 19, 2013, 23:12 GMT

    Dhoni knows how crucial this is now , I am sure if India can post 300 plus and restrict SA all out under 260. We have all probability to win this game, our bowlers will look forward to perform better with ball when they continue to second innings.

  • BigINDFan on December 19, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    @mzm149 - the fact that you said "Hopefully" means Ind already managed to get under SA skin. It is quite fascinating that scarred batsmen managed more than 250 and the powerful batting line up folded for less than 150. Philander is saving the team single handedly and full credit to him. It is an evenly balanced test so far.

    Game on folks! Hope to see a 200-250 run chase by SA in the fourth innings with the young Ind bowlers barring Zak pushing SA to the edge.

    Aussies must be licking their lips seeing the young Ind side pushing the mighty No. 1. Mitch will have a field day with this SA batting line up.

  • truecric_fan on December 19, 2013, 21:42 GMT

    I did not anticipate SA fighting with their backs against the wall to save the test. India batted and bowled much better than SA. They way they ar eplaying, I doubt SA can even chase 150 in their 2nd innings.

  • Shan156 on December 19, 2013, 20:57 GMT

    If not for the dropped catches, India would be batting in their 2nd innings now with a substantial lead. They let down their intensity a little and gave some cheap runs to Philander. Here is hoping they win this test and the series. They key is not believing the myth that SA are infallible. They are a good team, ofc. In fact, the best team by a large distance atm. However, they are not unbeatable. This young Indian side has it in them to win the series. Go India!

  • SanjivAwesome on December 19, 2013, 20:50 GMT

    Catches win matches. If we extrapolate that for India ....

  • on December 19, 2013, 20:44 GMT

    @ usernames ,As a South African fan I truly respect what Kohli has achieved in his young career so far,I definitely the who think this fellow has the potential to be in company of the greats if he continue this way,as far as your comment,you are one of the few Indian fans in this forum to give credit where its due.

  • mahjut on December 19, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    not sure the Ind bowling exceed my expectations (easy to say now but ) remembering the last series - and the SL one that followed - I expected them to put in a good showing (mixed with some SA indifference). Having said that, this was much better bowling than SA indifference imo so ... 'nuff respec'

  • CherryWood_Champion on December 19, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    We are missing one more fast bowler to go for the kill. That is clearly showing here. We should have selected Rahane in place of Vijay and Umesh Yadav in place of Ashwin. The team would have then been a perfect team. Not sure why Jaddu was even picked for the tour if they want to keep him on the benches.

  • Raki99 on December 19, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    The drop of Rohit might come back an haunt India In the end. Again India had a chnage to bundle proteous under 200 and they missed the trick.

  • cooljack_143 on December 19, 2013, 19:37 GMT

    Fine one Sidharth. Lets hope that Ind will hold on to those lost catches early on day 3 & post at least a 275 plus fighting total for SA to chase, they choke or not that's their problem, but Ind has to make sure that this test goes on until day 5, shutting all those cricketing commentators Pollock & kepler wesels out,who have been making all sorts on derogatory statements on Team India.

  • Shan156 on December 19, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    Well played India. Now, finish the good work tomorrow. Don't give easy runs to Philander and co. Du Plessis, obviously, is a good batsman. Hopefully, the Indian batting might will be too much for the South Africans and India emerge victorious in the Wanderers. India have never won a series in SA. This is a good opportunity. Don't let it go. Win the series and close the gap with #1 SA.

  • xylo on December 19, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    Given the Sachin hoopla, I was expecting the author to write how Kallis batted just like Tendulkar would have batted if he had been on this tour.

  • mzm149 on December 19, 2013, 19:30 GMT

    Hopefully South Africa will get a lead of 100 runs and will annihilate Indian batting.

  • usernames on December 19, 2013, 19:24 GMT

    Great article, Siddharth.

    As an Indian fan, I'd take this position any day. These performances belie the fact that this Indian side is still very young. South Africa is the best by miles... on their days, they can destroy pretty much any team. However, what was most important -- and what was missing in those previous tours -- was the intensity, the fight, the tenacity.

    Even if they lose the series 2-0 with such performances, I'm happy. There are certain areas we need to see improvements in the next three innings -- Rohit and Dhawan's batting -- but by and large we have done very well. We can't expect this side to go and defeat SA in SA... but if there's a process and things are going in the right direction, we should be happy.

    We possibly can't keep up to SA at their destructive best, but the fact that we *can* give them a fight is immense. :-)

  • ToTellUTheTruth on December 19, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    Indian bowlers did very well today, but for those dropped chances. Hope they can fix that and wrap up SA early tomorrow. A fit and hungry Zak was what India needed. So is the case with the "sparehead", having to prove himself to all Indians (forget about SA batsmen). There is hunger in this attack and that's for sure. Hope they can sustain that (including the fielding) and get ahead.

  • SurlyCynic on December 19, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    Well bowled India. Never seen a ball suddenly start reversing like that on a grassy pitch with a damp outfield.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • SurlyCynic on December 19, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    Well bowled India. Never seen a ball suddenly start reversing like that on a grassy pitch with a damp outfield.

  • ToTellUTheTruth on December 19, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    Indian bowlers did very well today, but for those dropped chances. Hope they can fix that and wrap up SA early tomorrow. A fit and hungry Zak was what India needed. So is the case with the "sparehead", having to prove himself to all Indians (forget about SA batsmen). There is hunger in this attack and that's for sure. Hope they can sustain that (including the fielding) and get ahead.

  • usernames on December 19, 2013, 19:24 GMT

    Great article, Siddharth.

    As an Indian fan, I'd take this position any day. These performances belie the fact that this Indian side is still very young. South Africa is the best by miles... on their days, they can destroy pretty much any team. However, what was most important -- and what was missing in those previous tours -- was the intensity, the fight, the tenacity.

    Even if they lose the series 2-0 with such performances, I'm happy. There are certain areas we need to see improvements in the next three innings -- Rohit and Dhawan's batting -- but by and large we have done very well. We can't expect this side to go and defeat SA in SA... but if there's a process and things are going in the right direction, we should be happy.

    We possibly can't keep up to SA at their destructive best, but the fact that we *can* give them a fight is immense. :-)

  • mzm149 on December 19, 2013, 19:30 GMT

    Hopefully South Africa will get a lead of 100 runs and will annihilate Indian batting.

  • xylo on December 19, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    Given the Sachin hoopla, I was expecting the author to write how Kallis batted just like Tendulkar would have batted if he had been on this tour.

  • Shan156 on December 19, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    Well played India. Now, finish the good work tomorrow. Don't give easy runs to Philander and co. Du Plessis, obviously, is a good batsman. Hopefully, the Indian batting might will be too much for the South Africans and India emerge victorious in the Wanderers. India have never won a series in SA. This is a good opportunity. Don't let it go. Win the series and close the gap with #1 SA.

  • cooljack_143 on December 19, 2013, 19:37 GMT

    Fine one Sidharth. Lets hope that Ind will hold on to those lost catches early on day 3 & post at least a 275 plus fighting total for SA to chase, they choke or not that's their problem, but Ind has to make sure that this test goes on until day 5, shutting all those cricketing commentators Pollock & kepler wesels out,who have been making all sorts on derogatory statements on Team India.

  • Raki99 on December 19, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    The drop of Rohit might come back an haunt India In the end. Again India had a chnage to bundle proteous under 200 and they missed the trick.

  • CherryWood_Champion on December 19, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    We are missing one more fast bowler to go for the kill. That is clearly showing here. We should have selected Rahane in place of Vijay and Umesh Yadav in place of Ashwin. The team would have then been a perfect team. Not sure why Jaddu was even picked for the tour if they want to keep him on the benches.

  • mahjut on December 19, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    not sure the Ind bowling exceed my expectations (easy to say now but ) remembering the last series - and the SL one that followed - I expected them to put in a good showing (mixed with some SA indifference). Having said that, this was much better bowling than SA indifference imo so ... 'nuff respec'