India and South Africa disappoint at the Wanderers

Ben Latham Roar Rookie

By Ben Latham, Ben Latham is a Roar Rookie

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    South African cricket captain Graeme Smith, left, shares a laugh with teammate Dale Steyn, right, as teammate Hashim Amla looks on after they won the first cricket test match against India in Nagpur, India, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

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    The crowd at the Wanderers, on the edge of their seats throughout much of day five, were entitled to boo both India and South Africa as a thrilling match turned to a negative, timid affair.

    The atmosphere had been electric, with all three results possible in a thrilling ending to an epic Test match between the world’s top ranked Test teams.

    At the end of the day, a draw was probably the best result considering nothing separated either side after five grueling days of Test cricket.

    It would have been unfair for either side to return to the dressing rooms with a loss after playing out such a tight fought match.

    In cricket, a draw is a result in itself, and often an exciting end to any Test match. But for both teams to throw in the towel and opt out of chasing victory at the death was, to say the least, pathetic.

    At several points for either team, it was certainly the correct, prudent option to take the draw and keep their series alive. But it’s undoubtable both sides also had ample opportunity to push for victory, but shied away.

    We should expect much more from the best in world cricket.

    Even following the fall of JP Duminy’s wicket, India were right in pushing for the draw with only 41 runs required for a South African victory.

    But with four wickets still in hand, why was Faf du Plessis happy to block and leave any wide deliveries to the keeper?

    At a time where singles were on offer all over the ground and Vernon Philander at the non-striker’s end (a half-century under his belt from the first innings), simply ticking the scoreboard over was a sure fire path to victory.

    Du Plessis’ century was utterly outstanding, but after Duminy’s dismissal, ten of Faf’s next 13 shots were either leaves or blocks.

    Perhaps it was this slow run rate that forced du Plessis to push for a stupid single that threw his wicket away and ended South Africa’s chance of victory.

    With three overs left and only three wickets remaining, India had turned the tables, and South Africa were now correct in playing for the draw, especially considering injured Morne Morkel and lemon Imran Tahir were the two incoming batsmen.

    But so close to victory, why did the Indians not try to bowl their opponents out?

    The third last over, bowled by Mohammed Shami, was defensive, seeking to prevent a victory Dale Steyn and the South Africans weren’t even considering.

    Five deliveries in the over were short pitched and easily evaded. That left only one ball that might have been a possible wicket taker.

    Next over, Philander faced no pressure whatsoever, a field mostly on the boundary attempting to get Steyn on strike, now far too late considering their wasted opportunity to attack Steyn’s wicket the previous over.

    After such scintillating cricket, it was a dismal final display by the world’s top ranked sides.

    With something special on the offing, at the death all 13 cricketers on the field may as well have shook hands and retired early to the change rooms – it would have been just as exciting.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • Roar Guru

      December 24th 2013 @ 7:00am
      Tim Holt said | December 24th 2013 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      Great match with a very curious finish…..

      I wonder, curious enough to have authorities investigate any outside influence from bookies

      • December 24th 2013 @ 7:27am
        Dexter The Hamster said | December 24th 2013 @ 7:27am | ! Report

        Well there is no history of that sort of thing in SA….

        • December 24th 2013 @ 10:28am
          Alan said | December 24th 2013 @ 10:28am | ! Report

          Maybe Warne fed the players some of his mom’s diuretics, or maybe Waugh provided the Indian bookmakers with the wrong weather report?

          • December 24th 2013 @ 10:41am
            Jimbo said | December 24th 2013 @ 10:41am | ! Report

            Ho ho ho, so there are no bookmakers in Australia eh ? Tell that to Santa, Alan.

      • December 24th 2013 @ 9:35am
        Jimbo said | December 24th 2013 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        That’s an underhand comment Tim, don’t indulge in innuendo.

    • December 24th 2013 @ 7:24am
      Dexter The Hamster said | December 24th 2013 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Thought the game was there for the taking as far as SA were concerned, at least from tea onwards. Why they didn’t push on is beyond me. The chance to make history, to win an “unwinnable” Test would have been amazing for that team, something they would all remember forever. Instead they were part of a draw.

    • December 24th 2013 @ 7:54am
      DanUK said | December 24th 2013 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      Du Plessis batted for 8 hrs and basically saved the match for SA, so think it’s a little shortsighted to question him for one mistake, even if it did cost him his wicket

    • December 24th 2013 @ 9:23am
      AZ_RBB said | December 24th 2013 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      Followed from the first ball. This was one of the best test matches I have ever seen. It ebbed and flowed numerous times over the 5 days and to end in such drama only added to the spectacle. Test cricket at its wonderful best.

      I debated all day yesterday with friends about what we would’ve done in that situation. It’s very easy to say that we would’ve gone for it. But they had Morkel injured ie one less batsmen and India were bowling fairly well.

      Absolute tragedy that this is only a 2 test series. Reminds me of the very short but excellent series Australia played in South Africa a couple of years ago.

    • Roar Guru

      December 24th 2013 @ 10:25am
      biltongbek said | December 24th 2013 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      A more realistic article Ben, and I have the same thoughts as you.

      As much as Du Plessis made sure we could get through the day, he was also the catalyst that ended our chance of winning the test.

      I do understand that he looked fatigued, but he just hit a boundary two balls previously, so why did he go for an unecessary single?

      India was not interested in taking Steyn’s wicket, if they were they would have made him play.

      • December 24th 2013 @ 10:49am
        Alan said | December 24th 2013 @ 10:49am | ! Report

        I agree that du Plessis’ momentary lapse of judgement resulted in the cascade of events resulting in a draw – he did what many people are now advocating, and gave in to his desire to win. It was just a moment of bad judgement though in a day where he once again showed endurance, common sense and guts. Because he didn’t lapse in Adelaide, we are now probably expecting perfection every time.

    • December 24th 2013 @ 4:16pm
      Peaches said | December 24th 2013 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

      Play to win, not not to lose.

      • Roar Guru

        December 24th 2013 @ 10:42pm
        biltongbek said | December 24th 2013 @ 10:42pm | ! Report

        We played to win for 132 overs, and made the right decision not to throw it away in the last three overs.

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