This has been a credible performance from the world’s number one Test side. They were without their spearhead, Zaheer Khan, on the final day and the stakes were very high. In the end, they timed it to perfection.
This was Harbhajan Singh’s hour of redemption. Like in 2001 when he first established his reputation here against Steve Waugh’s men, a decade on, he has again risen above criticism. This time, he bowled an off-stump line and assessed the batters’ technique to perfection. He cut off all escape routes for the visitors who were a mere nine balls away from winning a historic series.
Harbhajan’s patience and focus on the off-break was exemplary. South Africa would be crestfallen. In the last decade or so, bad luck has been plaguing them far too often. Has it something to do with their mental strength? I’m afraid, Eden has only added to that theory.
Look at the uncharacteristic slip-ups of this Test. They were within an hour of gaining complete ascendancy when the post-tea madness of the first day happened. The negative line of Paul Harris the second day; the dropped chances and then the final blow with less than five minutes remaining in the Test will be very difficult for them to digest. This is after rain and bad light had played a part.
Amit Mishra too did his career no harm. This game has provided a lifeline to this simple-yet-hard-working cricketer. For years, Mishra has toiled for different states and suffered in his career of fits-and-starts. His line in this Test was much better than in the earlier ones. Look at the men he accounted for in this Test - all of them could have saved the Proteas single-handedly in Kolkata.
Hashim Amla, amidst all this noise, must not be lost. This has been a sensational series for him. Pace or spin, first or second innings, nothing came between him and centuries. The key was his ability to play the spinners as late as possible, a trait he might have acquired from his Indian genes. His patience, stamina and commitment were all exceptional. How South Africa would have wished that two of their middle-order bats - Ashwell Prince and Jean Paul Duminy - had not failed utterly.
In the end of it all, it was a thoroughly professional performance especially when the chips were down for India.