So much for the “New No. 1 team in the world” tag. Team India shoudn’t annoint themselves No. 1 even if was the only test playing nation around just yet.
In the very 1st innings of the first test at Nagpur, Steyn brutally exposed a fact most of us probably knew but feared to speak in anything louder than a hush – we Indians still find difficulty spotting things that travel faster than 140 km/h. Barring Sehwag’s innings, the rest of the players had no idea what was unfolding in front of their very eyes, simply because they couldn’t see it.
Steyn breathed and panted like a dragon on mexican jalapenos as he ripped apart the line up with 7 well deserved wickets in the 1st innings. Tendulkar was extremely well set-up with some unplayable deliveries just outside the off-stump, just as Badri was exposed with his tendency to play in the air on the on-side. Vijay and Saha tried to leave sharp incutting deliveries with the grace of a yogic master.
Dhoni’s dismissal was as freakish as it was quizzical and hilarious. Zaheer was beaten with sheer pace alone, and as he left, one could almost hear him say “Gee, I didn’t know people bowl this fast.” Harbhajan stuck around for his customary 15 odd runs with a couple of boundary hits.
The outcome of this game is not in doubt anymore. As I watch Sehwag and Gambhir fall to Steyn in the 2nd Innings, it’s just a question of what new plans to make after the lunch session tomorrow. It’s now a question of whether we’ll see the plastered face and fingers of Dravid and Laxman respectively in the next game.
As for India, what exactly is wrong? Honestly – quite a lot.
For starters, this is one of the first tests in a while without the dynamic duo of Dravid and Laxman. And it ain’t pretty folks. In fact, it’s butt-ugly. With hopefuls such as Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina not impressing enough to warranty a test place, the onus quickly fell upon the likes of Murali Vijay , Badrinath, and Saha to cover. Getting an intro to big time cricket against a South African side with Steyn is not trial by fire – it’s trial by molten friggin lava.
Then comes the boring bowling. With the exception of Zaheer Khan , the others simply fail to inspire. I’ve always maintained that Bhajji gets a free pass for the sake of a few test matches that he has shone in. Amit Mishra does turn the ball a mile, but bowls at an average of 30 km/h, giving the batsmen enough time to have tea, read the paper, do a couple of sudokos (medium level), visit the crapster, and get back to play the ball. Ishant, is well, being Ishant, constantly doing his best Forrest Gump impression (Life’s laiike a box o chocolates….y’all never know what you’re gonna get).
Kudos to Amla and Kallis for brilliantly setting it up for SA.