Yes, I know, a little late, but here it is finally.
The series ended with the honors even, albeit SA can claim they played better cricket (right up until the last game). Their wins were huge thumpings, and they made a fight of their low totals. Their bowling, in particular, was impressive and they successfully kept the Indian batsmen on a leash. You just wonder what would’ve happened if this series had presented a level playing field (with regards to dew, and 5 games, as was planned).
The Indians turned in good performances nevertheless. Keep in mind that our perception of their performance is slightly skewed because of the several poor decisions against them — right from the first game where Smith was not given LBW (when on 0) and Tendulkar was wrongly given caught behind to the last one where Boucher was not given LBW and Sehwag was. This is a young team on the rise, and while they’re not world-beaters yet, they’ve shown gumption against one of the top-performing sides in world cricket. They will come across sterner tests abroad. I can’t wait.
The last game was interesting. Without a doubt, Kallis’ asinine batting led to them not winning the game. With so many wickets in hand, they never went on the attack. Not like the pitch was a spitting cobra either (like the second game in Bangalore). When they should’ve posted a 260+ total, they registered a mere 221. With the Indians chasing under floodlights, I had no doubt they would come out on top. But the Proteas made the job a lot more difficult than I’d expected. Had they not dropped so many catches (4) and kept the slips in place throught the game, it could’ve been a different story. That Smith wasn’t attacking the Indians was also rather bizarre. He didn’t think he was going to successfully defend that total without bowling out the Indians, did he?
I have seen Kallis turn in such tardy performances time and again. Somebody needs to give him clear directions as when to attack and what scores to shoot for. If he keeps playing this way, the South Africans will have a tough time in Australia, where they’re headed next. Other than that, they should be able to give the Aussies a tough contest.
Looking at the performance of the Indians, I think it’s time we looked past Murali Kartik. Admittedly, I’ve never been a Kartik fan and his performance in the last two series has only supported my thinking. Against the hapless Sri Lankans, he averaged 34.57 and bled 5.26 runs per over. The series against SA featured a couple of tracks that would be the best he could hope for, and yet he went wicketless throughout the series. Sehwag was much more effective than him (avg: 28, economy a shade less than 4.5). Considering that, I think we can go with an extra paceman (I think Nehra’s under-rated) or batsman, as the situation demands (and utilize Sehwag more — with Tendulkar and Yuvraj as back-up — in spin-friendly conditions). Other than that, I am quite happy with the team composition.