Sunday, 22 December 2013

Young India pull off 'mission impossible' against South Africa

It's a little too hard to determine the decisive moment in the sporting history of a nation, especially when it's still evolving despite promising a glorious future. 1st Test - as it happened! | Kohli's Masterclass

Team India is going through a similar phase at the moment. The MS Dhoni brigade, after their triumphs earlier this year, undoubtedly looked formidable but to become invincible they needed to prove their mettle overseas in hostile conditions.

The opportunity was not far away after BCCI sanctioned India's tour of South Africa. Up against the speeding South Africans, India needed to win on the bouncy wickets so as to prove their dominance in the sport.

But, as majority of cricket pundits expected, the world champions came crashing down in the three-match ODI series against the Proteas. The bowlers were already struggling and then Dhoni found his 'rock star' batsmen ducking for cover as well. It was humiliation beyond imagination for the millions of fans back home.

After failing the first test miserably, Dhoni & co. were staring at the Test series against the same enemy. And again the predictions for India's sordid saga started doing the rounds. But, no one expected what Dhoni's men had planned for the 1st Test, not even their counterparts.

Dhoni called the bluff by choosing to bat first despite India's fragility and the reputation of Wanderers' track. The Proteas, counting on India's achilles heel against pace and bounce, decided to play three front-line seamers.

With Shikhar Dhawan falling for a hook shot and Murali Vijay getting the usual knick behind the stumps, it seemed that the skeletons were crawling back from the closet for India. But, India's number 3 and 4 - Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli - gave a glimpse of what the new and rising India is capable of.

Kohli slammed a brilliant hundred, making up for Pujara's dismissal, alongside Ajinkya Rahane to guide India to 280 runs - a score that once looked like a distant dream.

It was a perfect amalgamation of patience, technique and courage that was prominent in the innings of almost all the Indian batsmen. The balls outside the off-stump were being left alone while the Indian batsmen didn't shy away from cashing in on the bad ones.

It was a psychological battle that was won by the new-look Indian outfit against the number 1 Test team in the sport. And, that's what made the difference.

For instance, Dhoni might have struggled to score runs but by taking guard at least one foot ahead of the crease and that too well outside the off-stump, showed the grit of the young Indian brigade to pull off the impossible.

The tough fight put up by the Indian batsmen seems to have inspired the struggling bowlers, who - under the garb of veteran bowler Zaheer Khan - came out all guns blazing against the Proteas.


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