Chasing over 300 runs successfully had done the trick and the team is giving positive vibes as it takes the field. The presence of fighters like Robin Singh and Jadeja who himself has a more confident air than in Tests and the experience of Azhar has given a more complete appearance to the side. Saurav Ganguly's India is a far cry from Tendulkar's, and though it is early days yet, the portents seem encouraging and exciting.
The bowlers had had a hard time on the Kochi pitch and the wicketkeeper too had not done his cause any good with his display behind the stumps. But this glorious game which has the ability to humble the mightiest can also turn the fortunes from one game to the next.
So we saw Agarkar come up with an incisive spell of bowling which got him the early wicket of one of the centurions of the previous match Kirsten for a duck, emphasising once more the uncertainty that is so much a part of this game.
Agarkar is a fiercely competitive cricketer who will not take a backward step in a confrontation and one could see that he was keen to make amends for the way his bowling was treated in the Kochi game. He bowled at a much more controlled pace than in the first one and thus was more accurate and also able to get a bit more swing thereby.
Kumaran too did his job and this took away the main cause for worry of the first match from the captain's shoulders. He used Tendulkar cleverly once again, and with Sunil Joshi using the breeze well to drift the ball into the right-handers' pads and then turn the ball away, the South Africans found that there were no easy runs from any bowler.
Skipper Cronje played a responsible innings and along with Boje he first steadied the rocking South African boat and then tried to take it to the safety of a 200-plus score. Unfortunately for his team, he lost sight of the shore when it was just becoming visible and threw his wicket away when there were plenty of overs left and his team needed him to be there till the end.
Boucher, who has batted splendidly, found himself running out of partners and the Indians did themselves a huge favour by dismissing the South Africans; or else they could well have been fined for a tardy over rate.
By capturing all the wickets to fall and that too for less than 200, the bowlers not only did an excellent job but also redeemed themselves. It was a top-class performance all-round from everybody.
With no pressure of trying to maintain a quick scoring rate, the Indians could afford to play a few dot balls. But that is not what Tendulkar likes to do, and in trying to go after Pollock, he lost his wicket, Cronje taking a superb backward running catch.
This was the ideal time for Dravid to come in and play at his own pace and regain his form, for at the other end Ganguly was, as is his wont, finding the gaps and keeping the board ticking nicely.
The pitch at the Keenan stadium is a terrific one to bat on, with the ball coming quite nicely onto the bat, and though there was turn for the Indian spinners, the South African bowlers were not able to make it deviate as much.
Dravid did the wise thing, trying to get his rhythm back, though why he played the shot that got him out is an indication of the frame of mind he is in, for there was no need for him to do so. An unbeaten innings would not only have made the victory a more emphatic one, but would have helped his own confidence enormously.
Now he will have to start all over again, though the time he spent at the wicket will have given him a lot more confidence than what he had at the start of this game.
Ganguly went on to notch another century, and it was his calm composed knock that ensured there was no panic after the early loss of the little champion.
So far whatever he has touched has turned to gold, but make no mistake that under that shy smile lies a steely interior. Indian cricket was down in the dumps only a week ago, and under his leadership, is beginning to show that they have not forgotten how to win.
Professional Management Group