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Saturday, January 27, 2018

India beats South Africa at Wanderers !

Test Cricket is at its charming best ~ a team doomed to loose 3-0 – finished victorious on day 4 reminding me of that 4th day – 28th Jan 1976 at Auckland !

It will remain etched in memory of Indian fans – India beat South Africa by 63 runs.  Indians were all out for 187 in first innings – the match card reads :  India 187 (Kohli 54, Pujara 50, Rabada 3-39) and 247 (Rahane 48, Kohli 41, Bhuvneshwar 33) beat South Africa 194 (Amla 61, Philander 35, Bumrah 5-54, Bhuvneshwar 3-44) and 177 (Elgar 86*, Amla 52, Shami 5-28) by 63 runs.

It was great drama throughout – after that hype yesterday when Dean Elgar received a nasty blow on helmet grill and discussions led to even improbable match abandonment due to crumbling pitch.  When day closed prematurely at 17/1, all of us thought, that Indians might wrap up the match easily – that was not to be and there were moments when we thought that the game had slipped away – only two results possible – SA win or they playing for a draw ..

India couldn't dismiss Dean Elgar at all, but found a way around him to complete their third Test win in South Africa. He was ridiculed on the third evening for a short ball that hit him in the face and caused an interruption in the play, but Elgar exhibited exemplary patience, courage and application even as he received some painful blows.   This morning  Elgar and Hashim Amla went more than half the day without losing a wicket and adding 119 of the 241 required for the second wicket.

To the credit of India, they waited patiently and still trying to force something all the time and when the first break through came they just grabbed it.  Ishant Sharma began the slide with a mid-afternoon spell of 7-2-15-2, victims being  Amla and Faf du Plessis. Jasprit Bumrah was equally impressive in his nine-over spell that followed up with wickets of AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock. Once the two were taken off, Mohammed Shami came back from an average morning with quick, full and accurate bowling to run through the tail – a great 5 wicket haul.  India had 5 pacers – Hardik Pandya bowled just 6 and Shami just 12.3 – taking 5 / 28. 

Most of us thought the target of 241 was good enough – yesterday there was suspension of play for   19 minutes before stumps – then there were rains  overnight and early-morning rain in a place where water had all but dried up.  The pitch showed signs it had settled down a little with the uneven bounce becoming a lesser concern for the batsmen than the seam movement. Elgar and Amla took body blows, were beaten, yet kept batting on and on.  At 124/1 – a SA win was probable.

Tea was about to come in and around  25 minutes - South Africa needed 117 runs and the second new ball would be available in 28 overs.  Ishant had Amla flicking to Pandya at short midwicket and that opened the flood gate.   Bumrah reared a beauty getting De Villiers caught at  gully.  Ishant cleaned du Plessis;   Quinton de Kock grabbed a golden duck plumb to Bumrah.   From 124/1 – wickets fell at 124 (Amla); 131 (de Viliers); 144 (du Plessis); 145 deKock; 157 Vernon Philander; 157 Phehlukwayo; 160 Rabada; 161 Morney Morkel and 177 L Ngidi. 

On that day in Jan 1976, in  Test no. 769 in Auckland came a remarkable Indian win.  Remember reading about the Test in ‘The Hindu’ and partially hearing commentary in the mornings of January 1976 – the Test at Eden Park, Auckland, when India won handsomely.  Kiwis were led by Glenn Turner, a legend those times.  Playing first they were all out for 266 with Chandrasekhar taking 6/94.  Sunil Gavaskar led India in the absence of an injured Bishan Bedi.  Gavaskar made a patient 116 and was over taken by Surinder Amarnath who made a fine 124 with 16 fours and 1 six.  Mohinder coming late down the order made 64 ; Madanlal’s 27 and Prasanna’s 24 swelled the score to 414 in 121.7 overs –yes 0.7 not a mistake – those were 8 ball overs. 

In the second, NZ were to be bowled out for 215 with JM Parker 70 and BE Congdon 54 resisting.  Erapalli Prasanna had a fine spell taking 8 wickets for 76.    Surinder took 2 catches – the reliable Gavaskar ensured successful chase of 68 remaining not out with 35. Alongside Surinder – Kirmani and Dilip Vengsarkar were to make their debuts and went on to play much longer than Surinder did.   Both went on to have longer stints, though such recognition eluded the abundantly talented Surinder.

It has happened 53 times in Test Cricket ~ carrying the bat through ! – Opener remaining unbeaten as 10 other wickets fall.  Dean Elgar who had done it earlier against England in 2015 did it today, joining the long list of AB Tancred of South Africa who scored 26* in team total of 47 in Test 31 in Mar 1889; the other early achievers include JE Barret, R Abel,  PF Warner, WW Armstrong, JW Zulch, W Bardsley, WM Woodfull .. .. .. ……  Desmond Haynes has done so thrice; for India – Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Cheteswar Pujara have performed – ‘carried the bat through’.

Happy  India won convincingly today . ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Jan 2018.

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