The 3rd test between India and South Africa at the wanderers concluded recently, and that too, in a way that not many expected. To start off, it was not a batsman friendly pitch to say the least. It was after a really long time that I witnessed a pure test match. This pitch really set it up for a great test for the batsmen. It was not easy to get in on this wicket and bet as one wanted. It was a kind of wicket that tested batsmen’s patience, skills, temperament, and way of approach. It was completely a testing stage for the best Indian batsmen. The batsmen who had proved their mettle on the Indian pitches had to be mentally strong here. It was not a wicket where the ball came on to the bat easily. It was not a wicket that Indians would have loved to bat on. But the Indian batsmen didn’t back off. Even on one of the so-called “dangerous” pitch, they battled. They played for pride. They fought for their pride.
Quoting Nasser Hussain, “If anyone ever calls this Indian batting line up flat track bullies again, they need to be reminded of the skill and bravery they have shown in this innings”.
The way Indian batsmen dealt with the situation, and even the tailenders, it was beyond excellent. It was just amazing to see this team battling their way to a historic win that would remain in the books for ever. This was not just a win of team. It was a win of skill, patience and temperament. It was the team that remained calm and composed which won. It was a display of sheer dedication and discipline.
On the 3rd day of the match when the Indians were batting in the 3rd innings of the game, this pitch did everything that one pitch could do. The ball seemed to move in every direction, it nipped long way across after tipping on the pitch and the batsmen seemed to have no clue. But still, they stood there and played every ball on its merit. No doubt, it was getting tougher every ball, but they didn’t lose heart. Philander, Morkel, Rabada and Ngid were bowling at the top of their skill and just hitting it on the bodyline mark. But the Indian batsmen stood firm.
Having got done with putting up a good score for the Proteas to chase, it wa snow in the hands of the Indian bowlers to earn a win for their team. They bowled exceptionally well. On the 3rd day, they were hitting the right areas and the Proteas were just looking places, trying to figure out what exactly was happening. Their batsmen were getting hit on the pads, chest, arms, and even head. India ended the third day on a high with South African batsmen asking to call off the day saying, “The pitch is dangerous”.
But when the 4th day began, the pitch seemed to have changed completely, overnight. Batting seemed to be much easy now. The South African batsmen were playing the Indian bowlers really well, and were managing to score at a good rate too. It seemed as if India was out of the game. The first session of the third day went to the Proteas.
And then started the 2nd session. The pitch changed again. The Indian bowlers started hitting the right areas again. The pitch started misbehaving again, and so did the ball. Everything was happening. Bowl was nipping in sharply, keeping low, an odd ball was bouncing and hitting the batsmen too. And suddenly, the wanderers witnessed the unexpected. Where in the first session it looked quite inevitable that the Proteas would cruise to a win here, the 2nd session had an altogether different story to tell. The Indians were on the top. The Indian bowlers, with Shami leading the attack went all over the Proteas. They hit them on their body, got them on the back foot, and within no time, India was in a position from where they could certainly not lose. And soon, Shami came running in towards Lungi Ngidi and bowled a short of a length ball that seamed away just a touch and Ngidi poked at it. It flew through to Karthik, the substitute keeper, who was immediately excited. The umpire having turned down the appeal, Karthik egged his skipper to go for the review and UltraEdge confirmed it was a snick. And the game ended, with India winning it by a comfortable margin of 63 runs. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was named the Man of The Match for his 4 wickets in two innings and priceless contributions of 30 and 33 runs in both innings.
All in all, it was a great all round performance by the Indians. The Indian bowlers had proved themselves throughout the series, but it was the Indian batsmen to needed to buckle up and that was what they did here. On such a pitch, where batting was like a walk in Jurassic park, they played with extraordinary skills and took the game back from the Proteas.
Every Heart Has a Story