Even in a draw, India can rejoice
Chasing 340 to win, India preferred to play safe and finished their second innings at 166 for three on the fifth day of the third and final cricket Test against South Africa in Cape Town on Thursday. Subhash Rajta reports. 2010-11 series summary | India's report cardcricket Updated: Jan 07, 2011 08:24 IST
A tame draw was perhaps the worst climax this pulsating series could have had. Almost daily, the series threw up exciting and riveting action, but the last day of the high-octane contest turned out to be a rather damp squib.
Could the series have finished anyway different from the way it did? Perhaps it could, but it would have taken a very confident India to go for the target of 340 runs on the last day of the match. One could argue that being the No. 1 side, India could have at least tried and given a shot at it.
Probably, the visitors would have gone for it had there not been so much baggage from the past. They have never won a series in South Africa and slumping to another loss in pursuit of a highly unlikely victory must have deterred them from giving it a real shot.
South Africa need to shoulder as much blame, if not more, for pushing the match to a draw. Had they not been so intent on safety-first approach and made a sporting declaration, India probably could have gone for it and the match and the series could have seen a befitting climax.
"South Africa should have declared earlier and bowled at India for at least 40 minutes on Thursday. India would have surely chased differently had they been set a target of around 280," said former South Africa paceman Allan Donald.
That they went on to set a next-to-impossible target shows how wary they are of this Indian side. Anyhow, even if the victory looked beyond reach, India had a huge challenge of saving the match on the last day. India, however, looked determined not to lose. So much so that even the indomitable Virender Sehwag appeared willing to wait and watch. Unfortunately, that, too, didn't work and he fell cheaply yet again.
However, a valiant half-century from injured Gautam Gambhir and a typically gritty knock from Rahul Dravid sealed the draw when they went to lunch for the loss of just one wicket. Later, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman saw the match petering into a draw.
India would be satisfied, if not happy, with the result. Of course, they couldn't win the series, but they didn't lose it either. More importantly, they never looked the second best side in the series.