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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

SA Series - Seven wickets to equal the series

Seven !!! Yes, seven more wickets for India to win the test match and square the series at 1-1. For South Africa, it is a matter of 192 more runs. Right now, India is in the driver's seat to win the match while one can never say till the time Kallis and AB De Viliers are at the crease. The pitch will support Harbhajan and India will come back strongly with the services of Zaheer Khan, who was a bit gingerly on the field.

Maybe it was something to do with the time he spent on the field, supporting VVS Laxman with a partnership that is mostly a match-winning one. VVS was seldom uncomfortable on the pitch where he has the Top 2 scores of the match. Only when the last wicket was left, he tried his hand with an uncharacteristic shot that led to his downfall. Till then, it was all class and grace from the maestro, who averages 142+ in the Indian 2nd innings whenever he scores more than 50.

In such match-changing knocks, he averages 43+ with Zaheer Khan and 36+ with Ishant Sharma - proof that most of his innings have come when the chips are down and he is forced to play with the tailenders. He did the same today also with Zaheer and added 80 runs after the fall of Harbhajan Singh. This partnership brought the target to 303, a total that was more challenging than what was anticipated in the morning.

Zaheer, after scoring his fourteenth score of 25+ in test matches was not his usual self with the ball when South Africa started their innings. It also helped that Greame Smith came out with an aggressive mindset against him. Runs started flowing and Dhoni was forced to take Zaheer out of the attack. Sreesanth, however, made up for Zaheer's lack of form with a good spell of swing bowling, taking two wickets and bringing India back in the game. Harbhajan chipped in with Peterson's wicket and India gained further advantage. The run-rate that was more than five at one time, came down with the new batsmen at the crease.

Tomorrow, the wickets of De Viliers and Kallis are key to the match. If they can be dismissed early, India will be able to run through the remaining wickets quickly. With runs on the board, I would call the Indians as the favorites right now.
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