Before the start of the series, Graeme Smith had questioned India's No. 1 ranking, saying the best side in the world was expected to win across the globe. Defeat at Centurion seemed to reinforce the South African skipper's caustic observation.
But after drubbing South Africa at Durban - a
venue where India have a dismal record- the No.1 tag fits better. Smith, who looked gutted, praised India's astounding fight back and acknowledged the visitors were indeed the topside. "They are the experienced side and we expected them to bounce back. This has set up the last match in Cape Town with everything to play for."
MS Dhoni tried to keep the heady win in the realm of sanity. "No. 1 is not just about one win. Had that been the case, what have we been doing in the last few years? Every win is special in its own way, whether at Kanpur, Eden Gardens or somewhere else in the world, it means a lot." Still the significance of the victory was not lost on him. South Africa is the only nation from where India have never gone back undefeated. This team could change that record.
The win has kept the dream alive and has also exorcised the ghost of seam and bounce that has haunted Indian cricket for long. That was apparent when Dhoni made a telling statement, "Greener the grass, the better it's for us," he said, reflecting on his team's fearless and positive approach.
He made the statement in the context of India's bowling - a greener track gives the bowlers a better chance to take 20 wickets. It also spoke volumes of the batting ability. "Our line-up is one of the most experienced. Sometimes, the conditions may not suit our batting, we have played 70 to 80 percent of our cricket in the sub-continent, so we don't have experience of these conditions." Nevertheless, the batsmen, who crumbled in the first innings at Centurion, have become far more resilient.