When One and Two battle it out for glory, what results is an awesome exhibition of test cricket. As awesome as it can get.
I look back at some of the interesting moments of this epic test match between South Africa and India at Johannesburg (Dec 18-22, 2013).
I thought Kohli’s masterly century in the first innings set up the game nicely. To me, it was not merely an innings. Rather, it was a statement that marked his arrival at No. 4 for India; much like Sachin Tendulkar who made the most of his first chance to open for India in ODIs (he scored 82 off 49 balls against NZ). The way Kohli recuperated after inflicting the blunder of running out Pujara was phenomenal. Of course, he would look back at his 5 Test hundreds and think why he hasn’t really converted any of them (his highest being 119), unlike Pujara who already has four 150 plus scores (out of his 6 Test hundreds)
The highlight of SA’s first innings to me was Vernon Philander’s fluid 59 which drastically reduced SA’s first innings deficit. Never knew he could bat so well. He had the technique of a specialist batsman with the aggression that goes well with a tailender. Bowling all-rounders are always an asset to their sides.
With a mere lead of 36 when Murali Vijay came in to bat for India, second time, I thought he did a great job of seeing off the new ball. His cautious 39 off 94 balls might not be remembered 10 years down the line, but played a big role in the Test match. What followed after the fall of his wicket is a partnership that reassured the Indian fans that Indian cricket is in safe hands. A mammoth 222 run stand between Kohli and Pujara in the second innings of a test match at South Africa against the like of Steyn and Philander. Steyn apparently recorded one of his worst bowling figures in Test cricket.
With India having set a target of 458 for SA to chase in a little over 4 sessions, the match was heavily in favor of India. Over the last four sessions of the test match, SA were to prove to the world why they are deservedly the test champions. On a pitch that misbehaved once in every ten deliveries, negotiating the pace and swing of the Indian quicks and the bounce of Ashwin, SA batsmen, particularly Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers displayed world class batsmanship. With the way Faf and AB de went about things in the 2nd and most part of 3rd session of Day 5, SA will actually be disappointed they weren’t able to seal a World Record successful run chase.
In the end, “Test Cricket emerged the winner!”