The enviable asset of the South African cricketers has been their amazing ability to spot their mistakes and rectify them in quick time. They had shown that quality in no uncertain terms on Sunday in the final against India and won the game by 26 runs.
On September 26, the Indian spinners in the opener of this four-nation Series outplayed South Africa. The South African batsmen's ability to deal with spinners on a helpful track was suspected then. But today they excelled to rally magnificently from 18 for three to 235 for nine in 50 overs. It was a lion-hearted combined effort by opening batsman Harschelle Gibbs and captain Hansie Cronje. These two put on 78 runs in about 14 overs and that inspired the batsmen who followed them.
During this period of partnership, Cronje and Gibbs showed the way to tackle the spirited and talented Indian attack. Gibbs made 84 (off 124 balls (4x4, 3x6) and Cronje 39 off 41 (4x4, 2x6). They used their feet with great felicity against the Indian spinners to take complete command. Left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi who had taken five wickets for six runs in the league match against South Africa (Sept 26) conceded 55 runs in 10 overs without a wicket today.
Off-spinner Chopra too could not impress much (9-0-48-1). However Vijay Bharadwaj, the most successful India bowler in this Series struck three quick blows towards the end. But for Bharadwaj's plucky show, South Africa might have even crossed the 250-mark. Such was the control the South Africans had on the proceedings after the early set back. South Africa packed its playing eleven with five medium pacers in Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Alan Dawson, Steve Elworthy and Lance Klusener.
Derek Crooks was the lone spinner. Skipper Hansie Cronje exploited his rich resources with a professional touch and succeeded in preventing Indian batsmen from clinching the upper hand. No doubt, there was some good effort from the Indian batting line-up but in the ultimate analysis such efforts proved not enough to get the better of this tough rival. MSK Parsed suffered a cramp when he was on 56 (134 for 3 in 35 oversee).
He came back when the score read 196 for 7 in 44.3 only to get run out for 63. Vijay Bharadwaj the 24-year-old enthusiastic cricketer from Karnataka was playing only his first international Series for India. He got the "man of the Series" award.