India in SA

A clash of modern day Titans

2011-01-04 22:00
Sachin Tendulkar (AFP Photo)
Newlands - Dale Steyn and Sachin Tendulkar went head to head in one of the great Test battles of the 21st century on the third day of the third Castle Test between the Proteas and India at Sahara Park Newlands on Tuesday.

It was hard to say if anybody won the battle and ironically it was Morne Morkel who got Tendulkar out in the end with a superb delivery that moved away to clip the top of off-stump but by that time the little master had made his 51st Test match century and gone on to 146 off 314 balls with 17 fours and 2 sixes.

And, when the dust had settled, Dale Steyn had claimed the 16th five-wicket haul of his career but India had taken a lead of two runs on the first innings. In the circumstances the Proteas will be happy with this situation as they had the harder batting conditions in their first innings and still put a very competitive total on the board.

By the close the Proteas had lost the key wicket of Graeme Smith as well as night watchman Paul Harris and go into day four with an overall lead of exactly 50 runs.

At the end of the day Steyn will have every right to feel that luck was not on his side so often did he beat the bat, even against Tendulkar, and there will be days ahead of him when he will not bowl nearly as well and take more wickets.

As it is he now has 20 wickets in the series which matches Allan Donald’s Proteas’ record for series against India. Donald did it twice, once in a four-Test series and once in a three-Test series, and it is improbable that Steyn will not claim outright possession of the record when India bats again. His tally of 16 five-fors puts him joint third on the South African all-time list (Makhaya Ntini has 18 and Donald 20) while he has also now taken more than 50 wickets in his career against India.

As for Tendulkar his greatest quality remains his ability to be totally unperturbed by what is going on around him. He exhibits a total focus on his job at the crease. He and Jacques Kallis could have been born out of the same coaching manual and it is no coincidence that they are the two best batsmen in the world at the moment.

In spite of Steyn’s heroics which included making up for the absence of Kallis the bowler this Test match has belonged to the two master batsmen.

It has been one of the outstanding Test matches played at Newlands and arguably the best since India played here in the New Year match of 1997. It was hardly surprising that the house full sign went up on the third morning which is not a regular occurrence when the gate is not boosted by the presence of England’s Barmy Army.


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