South Africa vs India: Battle for supremacy

Published: January 7, 2011

Had either of the captains acted aggressively in the third match, a result would have been a possibility. PHOTO: AFP

If India had won, lost or even drawn the series there would have been no change in the ICC Test Ranking. It would remain on top and South Africa would be number two.

However, since India has never won a series in Australia, England or South Africa, the team could not truly call itself the ‘best Test side’ in the world. Hence, this series in South Africa was the unofficial Test Championship for the best test side.

The series lived up to the expectations with some exhilarating cricket being played by both sides. It will be remembered for Sachin Tendulkar scoring his 50th Test century the most, while there were other milestones achieved as well. Almost 15 years after he began his test career, Jaque Kallis scored his first double century in Test cricket and also became the second person on the list of most Test centuries scored, after Tendulkar. He will most likely remain there as the next man in line, Ricky Ponting, probably played his last test at Melbourne Cricket Ground two weeks ago. There were also some great spells of bowling especially by the South African duo of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

The first Test match of the series ended as predicted. Taking advantage of the lively pitch, Steyn and Morkel blew away the much hyped Indian batting lineup to set up a big win for South Africa.

In the second test, India returned the favor. With Zaheer Khan returning to lead the attack, the South African batting line up suffered this time to leave the series tied one all with one match to play.

The third match swung from one side to another but a monumental effort by an injured Kallis on the fourth day left India to make almost 340 runs on the last day. All four results were a possibility but in the end it was a draw. India went at a snail’s pace to score just 166 runs but lost only three wickets to ensure a draw and hence ended the series leveled.

This can be treated as an achievement for India for on all their previous trips they have always lost. Meanwhile, South Africa’s wretched run at home continued. They have not won a Test series at home for more than two years now.

Had either of the captains acted aggressively in the third match, a result would have been a possibility. But both the captains opted for defense-first as an approach. This is something that has crept into the modern captain. Although this decade started with the Australian juggernauts setting a clear agenda for Test cricket with an aggressive approach and willingness to risk losing while going for the win, but after the giant fell due to the retirement of some key players, no other team has opted for this approach and hence we end up with more drawn Tests.

This series ended up in a stalemate and we still do not have a clear number one team in the world.

Dr Amyn Malyk

Dr Amyn Malik

The author is a PhD student at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. He is a former Fulbright Scholar who likes to write. He tweets as @amynmalik

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • AM

    Get your facts right. India last won the test series in England 1-0 in 2007.Recommend

  • Southindian

    India won test series in England. Whats this anti-India article?Recommend

  • Goutham Katta

    What is anti-Indian in the article, the writer didn’t get his facts right, thats all.Recommend

  • Dr. Amyn Malik


    Sorry about that….yes India won in England in 2007, 1-0. But the facts regarding Australia and South Africa are correct. India has never won a series in both those countries.

    And one more achievement of the series that I kind of skipped over was Rahul Dravid claiming his 200th catch in test cricket.Recommend

  • Anoop

    “This series ended up in a stalemate and we still do not have a clear number one team in the world.”

    –> We have the World’s Best Batting line up. A decent bowling attack on bouncy and seaming wickets(as we saw this series). An excellent bowling attack in Sub-Continental conditions. How are we NOT the best?

    Show me one team which has as good a batting as we do. Or, as good a bowling in Sub-Continental conditions as we do. Even on seaming wickets we have proved our worth.

    There is not a team in the World which can beat us at home, turns out not even outside India.

    The first test we lost because of one bad session on the first day. In the second innings we scored heavily. Recommend

  • Rajat

    Morale wise, England has to be the best team in the world. India and SA are fairly balanced at the top. Aussies are down and out and are facing a leadership crisis just like Pak. I wont be surprised if Aus are knocked off their no 1 position in ODI too. The oncoming series with “high on adrenaline” England don’t look promising either. Good time for Ind to take the coveted no 1 spot in ODI too.Recommend

  • Karim Javed

    Am not against India or Australia. But I have a serious question regarding this matter when Australia were number 1 in all formats no one argued them regarding their Test and ODI status and Ranking not a single Country argues South Africa or England but everyone has a question regard’s Indian Performance, Indian Cricket board and IPL and as well as ICC which is partially owned by India. South Africa always denies ICC Ranking system then England is also not agree with some ICC matters and they have also Problem with IPL yeah I can understand that they have County that’s why. And last Ahsan Mani & Pawar should thanks to PCB that PCB played a big role in making them this big. PCB always supported BCCI against Australian Strong contenders.Recommend

  • Farasat ALi

    @Karim Javed:
    This is our big fault that we supported Indians. Now we people are seeing that what are Indians doing with us. They are not supporting our cricketer and PCB. BCCI is selfish and proudy board. Recommend