Lahore, Dec 31: India are no longer a one-man team, and are capable of winning matches without batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar"s contribution, former Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram has said.
After losing the series opener against South Africa in Centurion by an innings and 25 runs, India came back strongly to beat the Proteas by 87 runs in the second Test at Kingsmead on Wednesday.
“Even on a wicket like Durban, India performed exceptionally well. The team played like a unit. It"s a team that does not rely on the services of one particular player," The Daily Times quoted Akram, as saying.
“I remember, in our times, it was Sachin Tendulkar all the time. Ten years back whenever we would get Sachin out, it was all over for India. But now, the scenario is different. The opposition team has to make sure that they get all the batsmen before breathing easy," he added.
Akram also said with the Durban win, India had justified their number one status in world cricket.
“I feel India have got the vital ingredients like character, leadership, consistency and self belief. India are on top of the world. They are the No. 1 Test team and they justified it in Durban. Many, including me believed that India would struggle in South Africa. But they have certainly proved everyone wrong," the cricketer-turned-commentator told a sports channel.
Akram was also full of praise for Zaheer Khan, who after missing the first Test, returned to the team in Durban and spearheaded India"s bowling to bundle out South Africa for 131 and 215 in the first and second innings respectively.
“Zaheer"s presence certainly lifts the morale of the team. I have always believed that Zaheer is the best bowler in world cricket today. He is out-and-out a wicket-taking bowler... Zaheer is on a par with the best in the business like Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel," he said.
Akram also hailed man-of-the-match VVS Laxman"s contribution, and said the stylish Hyderabadi batsman showed why he was India"s best bet on foreign soil with his match-winning knocks of 38 and 96 in Durban.
“Laxman is certainly a class apart… And the best part is that he performs when it matters. His track record reveals he always scores when the team is in trouble," he said.
With India languishing at 148 for seven, Laxman stitched a vital 70-run eighth-wicket stand with Zaheer in the second innings to help the visitors set a challenging target of 303 runs.
“Not only can he (Laxman) play well in the middle-order but also sticks it out with the tail-enders. He is at the prime of his batting. According to me, Laxman certainly falls in the list of top four batsmen in the world," said Akram.