4 TEST MATCH SERIES at Mohali, Bengaluru, Nagpur, and Delhi. India v South Africa. Freedom Series 2015.
Mohali Test The pitch for the test match was a result of India’s humiliation at the hands of visitors. Pitch had cracks from Day 1 and both teams made it look like they were in a hurry to pack the match and have a stroll in Chandigarh streets. Bengaluru Test Kohli and Amla expressed dissent over pitch and umpires’ rather principled views in giving it a go-ahead. India was safe at 1-0. Nagpur Test Just when the world was waking up to new world order in the Australasia with a day and night test for the first time in the history of test cricket with the introduction of pink ball, Indian curators left no stone unturned in preparing a turning track at Vidharbha Cricket Association grounds at Jamtha with cracks from Day 1, thus leaving Indian players to their comfort zone. India is now unassailable at 2-0.
The irony with these kind of cheap tracks (if not tricks) is that, for example, just suppose South Africa invite India for a test series and prepare bouncier tracks. What an averagely educated and ordinarily sensible cricket buff does is, compare and contrast nature of tracks and series white washes, and, NOT the nature of contests wherein hosts post a daunting total facing visiting bowling ranks and collapse their top order later on, say for propping up innings defeats for visiting Indian sides or claiming comprehensive victories. Similarly in Australia, India fared cheaply in most parts of the series but thanks to VVS Laxman Indians could halt Australians in some contests, especially at WACA in Perth, in 2008, when monkey gate episode made mockery of an otherwise gentlemen game. Moral of the series is that India should start acting like it’s the world power in cricket and put stop for retrieving database kind of wins and losses. This is the sole reason why India lost to Australia and failed to contain Steve Smith, who ironically gathered mass in the Indian IPL seasons. Stop fooling Indian fans, dear Indian cricketing heads!
October 25, 2015. Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. India v South Africa. Fifth ODI.
South Africa had taken the One day series quite comfortably after beating India in the final and fifth one dayer at Wankhede in Mumbai. AB De Villiers, the proteas captain, piled on 119 off just 61 balls (around 10 overs!) to help his side amass 438, the score of which was the highest for a team batting first as well as the world recorder – South Africa surpassed Australia at The Wanderers in Johannesburg on March 12, 2006, when Herschelle Gibbs scored 175 off 110 odd balls and Kallis scored a helpful pacey fifty. Incidentally, both one day matches were the deciders. Congratulations ABD and team! ScoopLense personally congratulate the South African captain ABD for amassing three hundreds with excellent consistency and powerful stroke play.
October 18, 2015, and October 22, 2015. Rajkot and Chepauk, Chennai. Third and Fourth ODIs.
While Indian batsmen couldn’t capitalise on their bowlers’ effort in restricting Proteas to 270 from an otherwise 350 plus start in the ODI at Rajkot – at one stage South Africa were staying on course for a mammoth total and the Indian spinners used deteriorating pitch handsomely, they made merry at Chepauk in Chennai with the help from Virat Kohli’s patient ton in humid conditions on Dusserha day. At Rajkot, India appeared safely cruising when all in a sudden Dhoni misjudged a well directed bouncer and wickets crumbled like nine pins with a Harbhajan’s late freakish hit for a six. At Chennai, Indians did well till ABD looked to play safe shots; only the moment ABD decided to cut loose and tilt the balance in favour of safaris did the Indian captain handed over the ball to Bhuvaneswar Kumar who received treatment early on from the top order. In the end De Villiers ended up falling short of calculating length from medium pacer and thus ended Indian anxiety.
October 14, 2015. Holkar Stadium, Indore. India v South Africa. Second ODI.
India had finally made it at the record venue. Just don’t think that Dhoni’s critic-silencer innings indeed had become a reason for touting it as record. It was because Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar had surpassed TEN THOUSAND (exactly 10k!) runs in One Day Internationals alone at this very ground facing Australians just after century’s greatest test innings by VVS Laxman took final frontier of Steve Waugh to Bay of Bengal. Dhoni played sheet anchor role before opening up his sleeves for a powerful 92 off 86 balls to give a chance for his bowlers, who had been of late a cause of worry after debacle down under and ICC Cricket World Cup semifinal at SCG on March 26.
October 11, 2015. Greenpark, Kanpur. India v South Africa. First ODI.
The tag Best finisher of the game‘s current generation for MS Dhoni couldn’t live up to reputation of being the finest of 40-50 overs in ODI – probably Michael Bevan comes ahead in the overall picture, in the last evening’s slog overs for India chasing 303 at Greenpark. India seemed coasting home quite fashionably, thanks to Rohit Sharma’s 150 off 133 balls.
October 5, 2015. Cuttack. Second Paytm T20 match. South Africa beat India by six wickets.
Cuttack continued to remain an elusive track to comprehend, unlike its predecessor Barabati which hosted India in a world cup league outing against minnow Kenya, which had beaten West Indies at Pune defending a low score in the same world cup. As it stands now, India will have to switch their game and possibly change their playing XI for matching up Proteas with the third and final of shorter version of the game to be played at the Eden Gardens in Calcutta.
The mind set can be changed, but for that to happen, players need to support themselves. Mind you, India had shown South Africans the door at the G pitch of Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG) only six months ago in World Cup group outing when Shikhar Dhawan made fantastic 137 braving weather and seaming conditions and South African fielding standards. As far as tonight’s game was concerned, Dhoni seemed a bit odd for not being in a position to motivate the players which was evident even by his own shot selection – of trying to punch it down to third man which actually nicked to the wicket keeper. As the saying goes, today was another different game. Next might be different ball game altogether at Eden Garden. Well played South Africa!
October 2, 2015. Dharamsala. First Paytm T20 match. South Africa beat India by seven wickets.
Before we discuss about India’s chances of winning the series, we can talk about something. That’s really something!
As I sat down waiting for writing house keeping stuff this winter that’s catching up while taking a close look at T20 match proceedings LIVE, I could see the match well in control of India at the end of 13th over, with Proteas needing about two runs every ball with Mohit warming up his sleeves, a friend of mine did indeed pose a question, “what if India lose this match with Dhoni wasting his time and balls?”. That’s kind of offence, oh, well I thought, on the man who did so many things happen with willow and if not for Tendulkar generation which many of us think of belonging to, with satisfaction and gratification, this man from Ranchi made generations to come to talk about India’s championships in all the formats – sixty, fifty, twenty, and tests. Even for a staunch book worm, somewhere down the line in General Knowledge assessments or Quiz programs, Dhoni’s achievements as captain of Indian men’s cricket team would surface. Now that’s perfectly okay as one can not afford to miss rank just because he/she is not interested in world of sports, or cricket in particular.
After I waited for about minute sensing there were few to defend the man in all sorts of probing angles – like an IAS officer whose conduct comes before scrutiny panel for systematic loopholes of which his integrity and passion for excellence on work front appear in parts just before two months of superannuation, I threw a rather casual retort, “what if we had Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Glenn Mcgrath in bowling ranks and Steve Waugh as the playing captain? We would have closed the match by now? eh, what if BCCI turns itself into Cricket Australia (CA)?” Playing captain is a sort of abuse in reference to captains winning matches when they’re not on performing spree. How thick is our skin! We make Tendulkars Gods of game without obliging facts and their limited abilities as humans. We know our capacities as human beings and the fact that our very limited knowledge which goes unnoticed even by Google, Face book, state and central (federal) recruitment interviews is something of a miraculous escape. Practically speaking, there’s nothing that an electrical engineer can do when UPS back up knocks threshold limit – build a power battery rearranging the naturally available yet invisible and infrequently moving subtle matter travelling down the road as co-passengers? The answer is no for human being, and, the same engineer can oversee power station working overtime and perhaps repairs malfunctioning circuits after engineering resources critical to power system. Just how an electrical engineer can not be attributed for failure in system equally applies to any system – governance, political administration, climate change, including entertainment of which sport is a major attraction and life building career with comfort.