In recent past, India have defied odds in all formats. They could be down by a match or two, with no escape route visible, yet they prevail. Wanderers was one of those days.
It was astonishing the way they escaped the noose. On a good batting pitch, they finished up inside 200 runs. It looked worse with Zaheer Khan not in the best of rhythm in his first spell. Ashish Nehra appeared to carry the hangover of the first game. Fielding was listless.
But then it happened. The Indians were willing to hang in against the odds.
The South Africans were willing to reward this perseverance of the opponents. A series of gifts appeared out of nowhere. Dhoni's men were smart enough to not let those moments slip away from their grasp.
A few moments underlined the point. JP Duminy chose to go wild when it wasn't required. Graeme Smith appeared inclined to bat through the innings when, on an impulse, he called for the batting powerplay when the asking rate was less than three runs an over. Finally, two wide deliveries fetched wickets to wrap it up for the Indians. Munaf Patel, of course, was the standout performer for India. He took advantage of the spongy bounce of the Wanderers pitch. Zaheer Khan took the cue and bowled effective slower deliveries in his later spell.
No less remarkable was the control Harbhajan Singh exercised to ensure India retained its wits.
He held South Africa in check in the early overs and allowed his team to recover its poise. Finally, there was the skipper himself. He effected some smart bowling changes and fiddled with his fielders in creating that mental pressure which alone could have cracked the Proteas. Even though Smith made the mistake of going for the batting powerplay, it still was to the credit of the Indians to pick up those three crucial wickets.
The series has come alive though the list of injuries in the India camp is worrying. One only hopes Sachin and the other regulars are dealing with minor niggles and would be back in action soon. TCM