When we look at the score card a few months from now, we may not realize how close a game this was. India winning by 6 wickets with 5 balls to spare seems like an easy win. It was anything but.
After some good bowling performances at the beginning of the South African innings, India was able to restrict them to 226. India went into the game with 5 full time bowlers which was kind of baffling. I have never been a big fan of India going with 5 bowlers in test matches. But even if that could be justified to some extent, I just couldn’t understand the rationale behind playing 5 bowlers in a one day match. The funny thing is that apart from Powar, none of the regular full time bowlers completed their quota and it was left to Yuvraj and Tendulkar to complete 10 full overs.
In India’s innings, Tendulkar let his bat do the talking and the highlight of his innings was the way he handled the short pitched stuff. He sent a strong message to his critics, who seem find lots to say even when Sachin scores well. In a post match interview Sachin said –
It is their job to have opinions. When I hold a cricket bat in my hand it’s a far tougher and bigger job. That is what I will concentrate on.
Ganguly and Tendulkar added another century partnership to their tally making them the pair with the most century partnerships in ODIs. Tendulkar also completed 15000 career one day runs, which will take quite an effort to beat.
Ganguly eventually fell in the 29th over when the score was 134. Soon, there was a mini wobble with India loosing another 3 quick wickets including that of Sachin for the addition of just 8 runs. When Karthik and Yuvraj came together, they needed another 86 runs of around 17 overs and they were the last recognized batting pair. One more wicket and it could have been curtains for India.
Karthik is still highly under rated as a batsman and hopefully this good solid innings under pressure in a must win situation for India will help in silencing some of his critics too. Yuvraj finally played to his potential and in the end India seemed to win comfortably. And as I said earlier, it was anything, but that.