Vantage point

Saturday, December 30, 2006

It's Leveled Now

India lost the Kingsmead test, but I don't think there's too much shame in the defeat. Throughout the test, the rub of the green seemed to go South Africa's way. Especially Asad Rauf's umpiring in the second innings. he gave Dravid and Tendulkar out wrongly. And even in the end, when the light was deteriorating, he gave Sreesanth caught behind thought the ball brushed his shoulder.

One of the heartening moments for me was Sreesanth's reaction. He was livid. He was fuming to be given out wrongly. He just stormed off the ground without shaking hands with the South Africans or anyone. The guy had intent as well as self-belief that he could slug it out and fight for a draw. He was ultra-motivated, and had the stomach for a battle. This sort of attitude is very uncommon amongst Indians, especially tail-enders. Sreesanth has already captured 16 wickets in the series. His job is done. He could have just laid ducks while batting and no one would have given him any grief over it. But in the first test, as well as here, he showed a desire to contribute. And he hated to lose. Whether his pace, seam control and fitness holds up remains to be seen. But his attitude is perfect. And with experience, he has managed to not let excitement or pressure affect his bowling.

The openers seem to reside in a world of their own. Sehwag's failures deserve another post. But Jaffer's rush of blood was inexplicable. He was looking very comfortable, and positively at ease. Why he needed to attempt that suicidal hook and throw away an opportunity to remove the uncertainty over his place in the squad is something even he won't be able to explain.

South Africa have won. But their problems are still unresolved. Luck has played a huge role in this success. It could all change. I am backing India to win at Capetown and take the series 2-1. I am also backing Sehwag to score a 150-plus.