Team India can come away from their South African tour secure in the solace that one-eleventh of their composition had the guts and gumption to compensate for the failures of the other 10 parts.
Yusuf Pathan's dynamism with the bat was underscored by his unwavering ambition to win the fifth and final one-dayer against South Africa. He of course fell short in that monumental objective, but he was the only one among his fellows to take the fight to the Proteas and give the mighty opposition a real run for their money.
He came in when India were tottering at 60/5 and at that hopeless stage no one gave India a hope in hell of coming back into the match. The carnage continued even as Yusuf kept up his end with Raina perishing when the score was 74/6, Bajji bowing out at 98/7, and young Piyush Chawla joining them back in the hut at 118/8. But along with Zaheer Khan, Yusuf just needed a few overs to turn the match around.
In the 21st over, he got the off-spinner Robin Peterson away for a four and a six after which 157 runs were required from 25 overs. Then in the 25th over, Zaheer and he teamed up to take a four and six of Faf du Plessis' bowling, reducing the equation to 136 from 21 overs. But Pathan's bigger overs were yet to come. Both the 29th over (from Morne Morkel) and the 34th over (from Johan Botha) went for 16 runs a piece.
Pathan's blitz culminated in the 35th over when he hammered Lonwabo Tsotsobe for 2 fours and 2 sixes, taking a total of 21 off him, to bring up his century off just 68 balls and bring down the victory equation to 50 runs required from 66 balls. In the next over, he was out when he skied a straighter one from Morkel into the hands of du Plessis at mid off.
Yusuf Pathan had brought India within striking distance of victory, but unfortunately Zaheer and Munaf Patel didn't have the wherewithal to take the side home, falling short by just 33 runs. Coming so close to a win was no small feat when you consider India at one stage required 156 runs from 24 overs with just 2 wickets in hand. It was only the grace, power and majesty of Pathan that could have narrowed the margin so much...