India in SA
India confirm No 1 status
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Gallo Images)
Durban - India won the second Castle Test against the Proteas at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Wednesday by 87 runs with well over a day to spare.
The result enabled them to square the Test series at 1-1 with everything to play for when the third match starts at Sahara Park Newlands on Sunday. It also means that India will retain the No. 1 ranking on the ICC Test match table regardless of the outcome of the series.
And it will stay that way for some time to come as the cricketing world is shortly to move into limited overs mode with the ICC World Cup on the Asian sub-continent followed by the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
India will not put their status as the No. 1 Test side on trial again until they travel to England in the middle of the year. South Africa’s next Test engagement after this series is at home to Australia at the start of the 2011/12 season.
India always looked to have the fourth day on Wednesday under control from the start of play. Their bowlers without exception were on the button and the Proteas had to wait for well over an hour for Dale Steyn to hit their first boundary.
By that time Jacques Kallis was already back on the pavilion after fending off an almost unplayable delivery from Sreesanth while neither AB de Villiers nor Mark Boucher were able to hang around much longer.
Ashwell Prince rallied the tail to the best of his ability to get the margin down to respectable limits but the writing was well and truly on the wall long before the last wicket fell.
Kallis had a precautionary X-ray but this revealed no more than soft tissue bruising and he will be fit to take his place in the third Test.
The adjudicators were never going to have to look further than VVS Laxman for Castle man of the match. He made India’s top score in both innings and his second innings effort of 96 was the only half-century on either side during the entire course of the match.
As Proteas’ captain Graeme Smith conceded, the Proteas lost the match when they got bowled out for 131 in their first innings and there will have to be some serious introspection before they move on to Cape Town.