I was curious to know what was going through Yuvraj Singh's mind when only 12 runs were required of three overs. The first ball he bowled in the 47 th over was swept by Kallis and Zaheer Khan made the most athletic of saves. Yuvraj applauded the effort and broke into an unexplainable giggle. The defeat was clear on the wall yet the Indian's did not seem to mind. Unless this side starts hating to lose it is never going to win.
The body language was negative to say the least and there was an air of 'so what' attitude especially during the business end of the South African innings. The bowling lacked the zip but the target did not offer the bowlers much scope but the intensity was clearly lacking.
Kallis played a knock that one would normally associate with him. Calm, focused and unruffled even when wickets were tumbling around him, it was a captain's knock in every sense of the word. The first two wickets adding close to 100 runs was crucial as it paved easy passage for a target that was made tricky more by the slowness of the wicket rather than any venom in the attack.
The more I see young Piyush Chawla the more I am impressed. Here is a young Turk who does not mind inviting the batsman forward. His googly needs improvement but with experience should learn the craft. These tough games should serve the UP lad well and there is a good chance he can fill into the big boots left vacant by Anil Kumble in the shorter version. Ramesh Powar continues to get better but only early wickets could have done the trick for India and sadly they were unable to do it. The last over finish was only surreal and it was not exactly a close match.
The Indian batting was once again found short of tempo. My mind raced back to a line from a well known cricket writer who said 'ban Sachin when on 90'. His knock might have been based on circumstances but having spent that amount of time he should have accelerated earlier and in hindsight it was clear that the difference between winning and losing was 20 runs.
Rahul Dravid played a typical Rahul Dravid knock, the only difference being the point of acceleration arrived a little early. I am still certain that the skipper should go in at three and continue there for some time. Gambhir does have this knack of pounding lesser attacks and coming a cropper against better sides and it only continued.
The difference also lay in the extra zip the South African seamers were able to extract out of a helpful pitch. Andrew Nel with his height and strong wrist action created the doubt in the batsmen's mind and mixed his length well, using the short ball to good effect.
In the end the superior fielding and agility carried the day carried the day for the Africans but more importantly their rock of Gibraltar was there to see it till the very end. If India were to come back from here to win the series it would be truly odd-defying.