India end tour with a whimper

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Published: Monday, January 24, 2011, 9:46 [IST]
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India end tour with a whimper

India will no doubt leave South Africa disappointed, especially when they consider what could have been. They had South Africa on the mat and were knocking on the door of history, just to leave without calling. But the disappointment wasn't so much in India letting two chances to wrap up the series slip through their fingers, but the near-spineless manner in which they bowed out.

There was of course nothing unusual in the way the Indian batting unfolded during the fifth ODI against South Africa, at Centurion. Almost like clockwork, one batsman perished after the next, with none of the top order doing anything to stand out or make a difference (with perhaps the sole exception of Parthiv Patel who made 38). One imagined that with the series locked at 2 all, there would have been something of fight left in India. But come the day of the big match, that was not to be.

Again the onus fell on a couple of batsmen to deliver. Yusuf Pathan was almost equal to the task but his untimely departure for 105 off 70 balls with India needing just 50 from 66 balls, showed that even a one-man army on the best of days can't win a whole war. Not to take anything away from Yusuf, but even his belligerence and valiance wasn't enough to carry the fortunes of a whole side on his shoulders.

The hapless manner in which India lost the series after being 2-1 on the Proteas brought back unsettling memories of the Sahara Cup in 1996 when India which were in a similar situation against Pakistan, let the opposition come back into the series and wrap it up 3-2.

Team India might be inclined to take solace from the fact that they were playing without three of their big guns in Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir, but perhaps the lacklustre showing from a slightly depleted infantry drives home the point that the side is still very much dependent on their veterans and that the relative newbies can't hold their own in foreign conditions. It is safe to say that the bulk of the Indian batting line-up didn't ajdust to the mean pitches of South Africa, falling away at the drop of a hat.

Now with the tour over and the World Cup to look forward to, India will have to pick up the pieces and regroup pretty damn fast. It will undoubtedly be a tantalising and heartening prospect that they will be playing in delightful home conditions again, far from the seam and bounce of South Africa's crackers.

And there have been a few positives to draw from the trip, such as the batting of Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan and Suresh Raina coming good (in patches). But with consistency being the name of the game, India will be hoping to give a more consistent performance in the upcoming global event.


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