The Indian team’s performance in South Africa has been well below par to what they are capable of playing. But in the first test match, they proved everyone (including yours truly) wrong with an amazing display of defiant batting, wonderful seam bowling and good fielding. Believe me when I say I am always the first one to criticize the Indian team when it comes to their performance. I always say they are over-hyped and lack the kind of team work that, for example, the Australians have.
India contains a bunch of very talented individuals in Dravid, Tendulkar, Kumble and the list goes on and on. But the best thing that could have happened to Indian cricket is the appointment of Greg Chappel as the coach. His record(and to a large extent Dravid’s as captain) as coach in tests affirms that with 7 wins, only 2 losses and 7 draws in 16 matches. With a win percentage of 43 and two away test series victories already (at a time when India was struggling to win even a test match away from home), you can’t ask for more from a coach. That said there are a few things he needs to get right like experimentation with the batting order especially with Pathan and specifically the opening slot needs to be tidied up. I would automatically drop Sehwag for a test or two and bring in Gambhir. We now have the effects of what happens when someone is dropped with some terrific performances from both Ganguly and Zaheer after their comebacks, same should be the case for Sehwag, Sachin and whoever is not playing to their potential or at least not giving a 100% effort.
And Chappel needs to be praised again for sticking with Sreesanth and not going the safe route by picking Pathan and Harbhajan in the first test. Because that was one amazing display of seam bowling from Sreesanth. And the refreshing thing about him was his character, he always did something to entertain and was always exuberant. Don’t believe me!, watch his reaction following the six he hit of Nel’s ball just after the latter had stared at him and asked him to show some heart. That kind of performance is never boring to watch but he has to curb some of it in order not to get in trouble with the match referee.
So, all in all, a very committed and energetic display from the Indian team after being murdered in the one day series. It was a good all around performance in all departments of the game. Now, the important thing to do is not to get carried away as Indians and their fans always do. Given that this is a historic win (the first in South Africa), focus should be on winning the next game as much as possible and winning the series. And repairing a few problems like the opening slot and the balance between spinners and seamers in bowling. But all said and done, this is a great moment to savor for any Indian cricket fan and any Indian in general. A first test victory is South Africa and today is one day I feel proud that I am an Indian cricket fan.