The craze of being number one?
Lions home, pussycats outside. Live from Centurion
ANALYSIS BY ALTAF KHAN
Who would like to miss the battle of No.1 versus No.2? Monday evening I was waiting eagerly for the updates of Centurion test, where India was pitted against one of the most formidable sides in the cricket-South Africa. Seeing India perform to its best for the last two years or so, I wanted to be a witness to the encounter of titans of the game. Afterall India had to prove that they are not lions at home, and lambs abroad, particularly when it comes to hunt in the Dark Continent. Even Sachin Tendulkar had acknowledged recently in an interview that, with Australia not the same unit as it used to be, South Africa was the team to beat in their conditions. India’s record in South Africa also suggested that India needed to beat the Proteas to reaffirm its supremacy in the cricket. It had to prove to its critics that the men in blue are just as powerful in the game as its board, which leaves no stone unturned to ensure that India plays most of its matches in its own backyard. One or two itineraries outside the country may have proven the critics wrong, but with the conditions in the sub-continent tailor-made for Indian players, it is obviously the overseas tours that can falsify the claims of some of the cricketers that rating system is biased in Indian favour. Not long ago Sri Lankan captain Kumara Sangakarra had set the ball rolling by casting aspersions on the very system of rating, where India can boast of highest points even after barking in its own dung hill. So South Africa was waiting and saying, “Bring it on” as many of the promos of the event showcased South African star cricketers and spectators were calling. Hence all the makings of the test cricket at its very best.
Going into the series there have been rarer brighter moments for the Indian top order, as the shot ball, has often caught them off guard. So there were all the more reasons to see one of the best batters show it to the world, that they could handle the hot stuff with cool vengeance. Unfortunately, the team India was bundled out in the first innings for a paltry 136. Team India started just where they left some years ago, little to write home about, other than some individual brilliance of M.S.Dhoni .Now it was left for Indian bowlers to make sure that South Africa doesn’t pile up the lead to lead the series. However, Indian bowlers seemed to have taken the field just to prove how the runs are given away on a bouncy track and a flurry of them. South Africa amassed a mammoth 620 and challenged India to save the test, thanks to centuries of Jacques Kallis, de-villiers and Hashim Amla. With a huge deficit, one knew that it was the taller order even for the tall batting line up of India.
This current Indian team has shown the spirit of fightback on several occasions, as an ardent cricket follower, I was desperately waiting for the Sehwag show, who blasts his way through, no matter, what the situation is. As expected Sehwag didn’t disappoint in the second innings. He along with Gautam Ghambir gave India just the start, it was looking for, showing the fighting qualities of the No.1 team. But just when we were dreaming about the very very special Eden Garden like fightback, we were made to wake up from day dreaming by the likes of Dale Steyn, Morkel,Tsotsobe and Kallis. South African bowlers made sure that bouncy turf doesn’t spin here the India way. Even the genius of Sachin Tendulkar couldn’t save India from defeat. And as the Master centurion notched up his 50th century at centurion many of my friends got so obsessed with the Sachin heroics with the bat that they forgot what Sachin was fighting for. I was waiting at night for post mortem of the defeat, as I was eager to know, what were the reasons for the defeat of the No.1 team. But every channel showed “god of cricket” making yet another record at the Centurion. 24*7 news channels poured out all they had for Sachin phenomenon that those who slept earlier had to try some alternative sources of information about what happened to Indian team at the Centurion. Taking nothing away from the fantabulous cricketer that Sachin is, whose every outing for India, would create a new record. The point to ponder about is our media, more so the electronic media in chauvinism forgets that it is the game played between the two countries rather than between some record holding individuals. For that matter who can excel the phenomenal figures that South African all rounder Jacques Kallis has, with more than 11,000 runs and more than 250 wickets in each version of the game-the test and one day cricket, under his belt, South Africa could boast about his record for years but that is not how they take their cricket. In the first test Jacques Kallis made a double century and took some important wickets as well, but at no time did South African Commentators recited hymns in his praise as the “god of South African cricket”. If South African captain were asked how would it feel if Sachin scored his 50th century and you go away with the victory against the No.1 side, he would have taken it. Infact Graeme gave an interesting comment after post match presentation, where he said, he was amazed the way Sachin went to the non striker’s end to clear the way for South African bowlers to clean up the tail.
India is currently the No.1 team, but we the followers of Indian cricket, don’t think like No.1. Do the few World class batters make any side the world class team? No. It is on the day 11 performances put together that make the No.1 team as happened to be the case with the West Indies in 70’s and 80’s and Aussies post millennium. So the post-mortem centurion reveals India number one team 0-1 down and Mr Centurion’s 50th ton just another record, meant to be broken.
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Lastupdate on : Sat, 25 Dec 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 25 Dec 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 26 Dec 2010 00:00:00 IST
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