India have arrived. They may be a couple of days tardy, but they have finally made their presence known to the opposition at Centurion Park. A mere shadow of their projected image on Day 1 and 2 of the first Test against South Africa - as they allowed the hosts to demolish and steam-roll them - India have finally upped their game and are making a contest out of what had largely been a one-sided affair.
And showing them the way to a possible draw in this encounter was Indian opener Gautam Gambhir. Facing a mammoth 484-run innings defeat, Gambhir buckled down with his partner Virender Sehwag, to put on 137 runs for the first wicket. His knock fed hopes that the demons in the pitch have been exorcised and his team-mates just need to apply themselves to knock off, one by, one, the remaining six sessions.
"I think it is a very flat track and it's just a matter of hanging in there, and taking the sessions one by one," Gambhir said. "Apart from the first day when we lost the toss and the wicket did a lot, this has been a good pitch for batting. It's going to be hard for the South Africans to get us out."
Once before Gambhir had saved India from looming defeat with his penchant for patience and dedication. It was the second Test on India's March 2009 tour of New Zealand, in which India had to play out the bulk of the final two days to force a draw. Gambhir stood his ground admirably for the cause, making a watchful 137 from 436 balls and batting in the end, for over 10 hours.
"Unfortunately it didn't happen on this occasion, but I have confidence the rest of the side can pull off a draw", said Gambhir disappointed. "If we can draw this Test, we can turn this series in our favour."
Just before bad light brought Day 3 to a premature close in the ongoing Test, Gambhir was adjudged lbw to Steyn, having to exit on the painful score of 80. Even though, the fatal ball kept a tad low, Gambhir feels there aren't too many surprises in the pitch. "It has started keeping a bit low and there is a bit of inconsistent bounce, but not that much. The wicket is not too fast either."
Possibly coming to India's aid will be the temperamental weather as it started raining soon after stumps on the third day. If the rain gods decide to intervene over the next two days, it will save India valuable batting time and lessen the burden on the remaining batsmen. But Rahul Dravid who will pick up his innings on 28, with nightwatchman Ishant Sharma, who is not out on 7, is confident he can do the needful to prevent defeat.