India quest to reclaim No. 1 tag

Written by: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee
Published: Monday, February 15, 2010, 19:28 [IST]
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India quest to reclaim No. 1 tag

It's quite funny to see fortune and form change overnight in sports. It was only last week that everybody was doubting Team India's claim to the No. 1 tag and now with the team's performance in the Second Test against South Africa at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata the same critics are singing praises for the team. This is quite a common phenomena in Indian cricket as the team looks world beaters in a match and ordinary in the next.

If the first two sessions of the South African innings were anything to go by the staunchest of Indian fans would not have smelled India would be at the driver's seat by the end of Day 1. The South Africans seemed a little over confident in the last session and lost seven wickets for a mere 38 runs after making Indian sweat in the first two. The South African batting order looked like a pack of cards in the last two hours of play bringing cheers to the Eden crowd.

India vs South Africa, 2nd Test - Scorecard

Ishant Sharma bowled a fiery spell to cutting down on runs and loosening the South African defense especially that of Hashim Amla's. Although he managed just a single scalp in the first innings he created the platform for the South African collapse. Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan soon joined the party and South African batsman began to leave the filed without troubling the scorers. Zaheer also laid claim to a run-out showing some sharp fielding skills.

The first day of the Eden Test was reminiscent of the historic match versus Australia in 2001. Al like in that case Indian bowlers came back from nowhere to rattle the South Africans. Harbhajan Singh who has announced his maturity in that test with a hattrick almost repeated his feat against the Proteas. Incidentally even in the 2001 Test, India had come to Kolkata after suffering a crushing defeat in the first test in Mumbai.

If the bowlers had done the job the first day, batsman came to the party on Day 2. Sachin Tendulkar and murderous Virender Sehwag sent the Proteas bowlers to all parts of the ground. The two shared 249 run stand with Sehwag scoring a quick fire 165 of mere 174 deliveries while the Master Blaster stroked a patient 106 his fourth in as many tests. India finished the day with 342 for 5 taking a first innings lead of 46 runs over South Africa.

After the first two days, India have put themselves in the driver's seat in this test match. They look set for a 150 plus lead in the first innings which should be a herculean task for the South Africans as the pitch has already shown signs of wear and tear. India need to play sensibly from here as they look unlikely to loose this test match. But funny things have happened in the game before and South Africa would surely play for a turn-around in the match.

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