December 6, 2013
Choice of game
I was glad to eventually see some on-field action after months of wrangling and grand-standing off the field. I relished the chance to see the one-day champions take on the Test champions. My prediction was for a close contest, with India prevailing.
I was rooting for India.
Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and MS Dhoni entertained with their swashbuckling batting, but it was Dale Steyn who proved to be the destroyer-in-chief. His initial spell of four overs for a miserly five runs was hostile and accurate. He set the tone for the rest of the South African quicks, who, having drawn first blood, hunted as a pack. Steyn returned later in the game to continue to torment the Indians, running out Suresh Raina and taking three wickets including the prize scalp of Dhoni.
One thing I'd have changed about the match
I would have settled for a maiden in the 15th over, by Ryan McLaren. India lost two key wickets, including the master of the run chase, Virat Kohli.
Face-off I relished
Steyn v Kohli. Kohli scored 11 off 11 balls from Steyn, including two stylish boundaries and a half-hearted appeal. This, however, proved to be an appetiser with no main course as Steyn was taken off.
Hashim Amla's dismissal in the 30th over precipitated an inspiring sea of Indian flags.
Kohli, McLaren and Lonwabo Tsotsobe fielded at fine leg. They all attracted hordes of autograph and photograph hunters, with Kohli being the major drawcard, especially amongst the female fans. McLaren was considerate and obliged the fans, not only between overs but also between deliveries.
Shot of the day
In the 33rd over, R Ashwin dispatched Tsotsobe's second ball to the midwicket boundary. This evoked a thunderous applause from the die-hard Indian fans hoping for a late onslaught.
Cricket South Africa and their sponsor declared the day a "Pink Day" in an effort to raise funds and awareness of breast cancer. The Proteas and the crowd responded with turning the Bullring into a vision in pink. The Highveld sky completed the picture at sunset. The batsmen, especially the home team, helped raise thousands of rands as huge donations were made for every boundary and six scored. That may have been the only plus of the night for the beleaguered Indian bowling attack.
The stands were sparsely populated initially but filled up as the match progressed. The chants of "Sachin, Sachin" - a perennial favourite at Indian matches - was not unexpected, especially in the face of their capitulation early on. The crowd support for both teams was considerable, with the Proteas being crowd favorites. Interestingly only a small number of their fans stayed to witness the end of the game and the presentation ceremony. De Kock, the youngest Protea, received a well-deserved standing ovation upon reaching his first ton at home. The youngster was a study in grace and humility as he acknowledged both the crowd and dressing room.
Fancy dress index
The multi-cultural identity of the Rainbow Nation of Madiba was evident in the costumes that ranged from sadhus in the tri-colour of the Indian flag to a band of Santa Claus in red hats. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow belonged to the bearded, slightly rotund man in the shocking pink ballerina outfit complete with matching tutu and wig.
A real mid-innings crowd puller was allowing people on to the ground during the interval. This enabled a large section of the crowd to indulge their passions, which seemed to be either selfies or mini-cricket.
Marks out of 10
6.5. The quality of cricket from the Proteas was excellent, especially in light of their recent performance against Pakistan. The world champions were disappointing, which was to be expected considering their minimal preparation time and lack of warm-up games . The atmosphere was festive with the South African fans obviously buoyed by their team's performance and the Indians deriving pleasure from the innings of their unflappable captain and his allrounders, Jadeja and Ashwin.
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Kapila Hari is a specialist physician but her alter ego is of a cricket aficionado. She is a die-hard Indian fan since childhood and is eternally grateful to her father and grandfather for igniting this passion. She and her husband are able to indulge their twin passions of cricket and travel (Australia to Zimbabwe). Her ultimate cricketing dream is to watch India win the inaugural World Test Championship in 2017.
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