India win second Test by 87 runs; level series 1-1
The Durban jinx is broken. It's perhaps the last place in the world after Perth - which India conquered in 2008 - that was considered invincible for India. Subhash Rajta reports.ScorecardPodcast: India beat SAcricket Updated: Dec 30, 2010 02:46 IST
The Durban jinx is broken. It's perhaps the last place in the world after Perth - which India conquered in 2008 - that was considered invincible for India.
On Wednesday, however, India breached the frontier with relative ease to script one of their best ever wins overseas.
And how significant the victory is was apparent in the ecstatic celebrations that followed immediately after Cheteshwar Pujara ran out last man Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
The team went into a victory huddle, patted and embraced each other, and then plucked the stumps and punched the air, taut with excitement and jubilation. The spectacular victory - by 87 runs as South Africa caved in chasing 303 for victory --underlines this Indian team's fierce desire to win against all odds, and South Africa's vulnerability when put under pressure. India had their nose just ahead when they trooped out for what would turn out be a great day. The match could have still gone either way with South Africa having seven wickets in hand to chase down the required 192 runs.
India, however, took the game by the scruff of its neck within the first hour. What got India a toehold in the door to victory was a brute of a delivery bowled by Sreesanth that got Jacques Kallis out of the way. It reared from nowhere, forcing Kallis to fend off his glove to the waiting Virender Sehwag at gully.
That opened the floodgates and India kept chipping away at the remaining wickets, although a couple of decisions against AB de Villiers and Mark Boucher looked doubtful.
Even as the sparse crowd - surprisingly only about 5,000 people turned up to see the climax -- cheered every single run and jeered every unsuccessful appeal, there was no stopping India from conquering Kingsmead, which they did an hour after lunch. The win must qualify as one of the finest ever by India given the context and conditions it came in. Having lost the first Test as badly as they did at Centurion, a question mark had cropped up over their World no 1 ranking. Besides, South Africa rolled out a green wicket to make the already hard conditions harder. They would have surely been confident of rolling India over on a green turf and pocket the series that's seen as the contest for being the real No 1.
But what followed brought out the resilience of this Indian team. A lesser side would have caved in. As is often the case in all against-the-odds wins, a couple of individuals played out of their skins to make it happen. VVS Laxman brought out yet another extraordinary knock under extreme pressure - that he did this with a stiff back makes it more special, Zaheer, back from injury, turned in a performance that made Proteas pay for their decision to roll out a green track.
With series leveled, India head to the Cape Town decider high on confidence.
The dream to post the first ever series win in South Africa has never looked as real as now.
First Published: Dec 29, 2010 13:46 IST