Tag Archives: South Africa

Take a bow, Proteas!

On the one side, you had a team which had played 6 World Cup Semi finals (I repeat, 6 World Cup Semi finals) and was yet to feature in a single World Cup Final. On the other, you had a team whose worst enemy was luck.

You always knew that when NZ and SA would clash for a spot in the World Cup 2015 Final, the result was going to be unfortunate, irrespective of who wins. Both teams truly deserved to play the World Cup final (IMHOHO). If one team had bowlers hunting in packs and batsmen who strike at 200 (or above, BMac, case in point) for fun, the other team had too many awesome players (both on the field and off it) for anyone to even think about hating them.

So, when Grant Elliott nailed the match with a six over long on off Steyn, there were a million hearts broken; not all of them were of South Africans’. I (like millions of others) could not just move on. We were gutted. We felt cheated. We didn’t see it coming. We completely empathized with the Proteas. We just couldn’t resist breaking down, on seeing sights of SA players crying on the field. Eden Park suddenly seemed a holy place.

AB de Villiers and his army were men on a mission. They really really wanted to make it to the World Cup final. And this edition was their best chance. AB de Villiers! Whatte man! I don’t think any of us acknowledge how fortunate we are to live in an era when this man ruled cricket! Think about it. We are living in a time when Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is playing cricket. Can we safely assume he’s the best ODI player ever? (In a list that includes Sachin Tendulkar, Sangakkara, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli). I will.

Truly heartbreaking moment

Truly heartbreaking moment

A rational person could argue, “It’s just a match. One team has to lose, after all”. Agreed. But now, it’s not about being rational. It’s more than that. SA dropped two potentially match-winning catches and missed two run out chances at crucial points. Logically, by committing those mistakes, SA deserved to lose. But it was beyond all of that. When emotions seep in, rationality takes a back seat. I am sure even die hard supporters of the Black Caps would have felt for the Proteas. Today, I am officially ashamed of calling SA “Chokers”, in the past, even jokingly.

Talking about NZ supporters, what a crowd they were today, at Eden Park! Giving a standing ovation to the losing Captain ABD was truly special. In my mind, they’ve risen above the Chepauk crowd that gave a standing ovation for the winning visiting team (Pakistan) in 1999.

That’s how awesome Cricket as a Sport is! Neutral observers experience heartbreaks, crowds cheer for opponent teams after a match, players console each other after the game! The guy who called Cricket a Gentleman’s game didn’t call it without reason.

Talk about Sportsmanship

Talk about Sportsmanship

AB de Villiers and Co., all I have to say to you is there’s no shame in this defeat. You were truly sensational! You can go back to South Africa with your heads held high!

Written by a gutted Proteas supporter after the 1st Semifinal of Cricket World 2015 between NZ and SA on 24th March, 2015 at Eden Park, New Zealand.

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The build-up to India vs South Africa!

Come Sunday, the 22nd of February, Dhoni & Co. would be put to the real test. We’ll get to know if India’s first win on Australian soil (last week against Pak) in three months was really the beginning of something spectacular. Before going to the battle on 22nd, let’s revisit the previous three instances when India and South Africa met in World Cups.

Clash #1: Benson and Hedges World Cup 1992

The match, held at Adelaide Oval was reduced to 30 overs a side due to rain. After putting India to bat, South African bowlers restricted India to 180 for 6, with “White Lightning” Alan Donald striking twice, in 6 overs. Donald dismissed Kris Srikkanth for a duck. It marked the end of Kris Srikkanth’s illustrious World Cup and ODI career (His “seedan” Virender Sehwag would go on to play three World Cups for India). South Africa chased down the target with 5 balls to spare.

India exited in Round 1 while SA would go on till the Semi Finals, when Duckworth and Lewis decided to give them a target of 22 runs to win in 1 ball

Clash #2: ICC World Cup 1999

This match marked the debut of Stalwarts like Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, among others in World Cups. After Azhar decided to bat first, Dada-Dravid partnership of 130 (Dada – 97 run out Rhodes, Dravid – 54 b Klusener) helped India put up a decent total of 253 in 50 overs. Kallis’ Man of the Match winning 96 and Rhodes’ quick 39 off 31 helped South Africa effect a second consecutive win against India in World Cups.

Rahul Dravid against South Africa in 1999 World Cup

Rahul Dravid against South Africa in 1999 World Cup

India exited in the Super 6s while SA would go on till semi finals yet again, to choke against the Aussies. That match, in many ways, was the beginning of the rise of Australian cricket. Australian cricket never turned back, for the next 8 years. They would go on to rule the next decade.

Clash #3: ICC World Cup 2011

267 for 1 to 296 all out. Indian middle order never looked so pathetic before or after this match. At one point, it looked like India would reach 350 (at least), before Morkel triggered a collapse in the 40th over with Sachin’s wicket. Dale Steyn ran through India’s middle and lower middle order, picking up 5 wickets. Sachin scored his 99th International Hundred in this match (the 100th hundred would elude him and his fans for a long long time).

#99

#99

A combined batting effort helped South Africa reach the target with two balls to spare. Ashish Nehra was back to form, conceding just 65 runs in 8.4 overs.

What the faf!

What the faf!

Clash #4: Mauka pe Chakka?

South Africa has never looked this world beating coming into a World Cup. Steyn is preserved and fresh. Hashim Amla is scoring centuries for fun. AB de Villiers is in red hot form. They have a bunch of other kids (faf du Plessis, Morkel, among others) who are equally motivated and prepared.

Too many match winners in a single frame!

Too many match winners in a single frame!

India, on the other hand, has had a patchy 3 months down under. The win against Pakistan will by no means make India complacent. Dhoni will know that South Africa is the real test. If they can beat this South African team , early on in the tournament, it will be a huge morale boost for the men in blue.

Steyn vs Kohli, Ashwin vs AB de, Indian Pacers vs Mighty Hash, lot of battles to look forward to. Can’t wait for the clock to tick 9 am, on 22nd.

Edit:

Oh, and if you are not regular on social media and haven’t caught hold of the ambushes to Star Sports’ “Mauka Mauka” ad, you MUST see these videos.

Star Sports’ initial video on Ind vs Pak.

Star Sports’ “Mauka Mauka” video on Ind vs SA

Ambush #1

Ambush #2

One vs Two

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!”