Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dream is over: South Africa beat India by 174 runs

By John Cheeran
Yes, it is back to Down Town defeat in Durban for skipper Rahul Dravid and India.
India lost the second Test in Durban by a huge margin -174 runs to let SouthAfrica level the three-Test series 1-1. It is disappointing that Indians have wasted a great opportunity to win the Test series in South Africa through some inept batting from their experienced batsmen.
Wasim Jaffer, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly all failed to occupy the crease during the last four sessions. It took the gutsy effort from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (47 with 10 boundaries) and Zaheer Khan to delay the inevitable on the final day.
Not only the frontline batsmen let India down so did the weather. There was no rain that could have washed off the proceedings in India's favour.
Instead cloudy weather helped South African fast bowlers Makhaya Ntini and Andre Nel as they swung the ball around the Indian bats.
Now what happens to the school of experience? If our experienced batting line-up (yes, including Dravid) cannot play out time in a critical situation they are not worth much.
Had the team management been bold enough to drop wanton Sehwag and played Irfan Pathan as a batsman things would have been better. A conservative approach of not disturbing the winning combination, championed by the that wooly Chairman of national selectors Dilip Vengsarkar, meant that India were burdened with Sehwag for Durban.
It is high time gallows are readied for the dazzler from Delhi as it was done in Baghdad, for another bully, Saddam Hussain.
Well, South Africa and Graeme Smith deserve their success though it has to be mentioned that they were hugely benefited from the outrageous decisions by Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf. Indian skipper Dravid was given out in both innings (first innings lbw, second innings caught behind) which had a remarkable unbalancing effect on the way the Indian innings shaped up. Dravid's absence spelled disaster for India. In the second innings Tendulkar too got a highly debatable lbw verdict from Rauf.
And with light fast receding, the caught behind decision against Sreesanth, again by Rauf beggared belief.
There should have been no ambiguity when the ball bounced off Sreesanth's right shoulder.
Such stupid decisions from any umpire should enrage Indian cricketers and their supporters. Coming from a Pakistani it makes a bitter pill to swallow.

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