Indians aim for historic first Test series triumph
Cape Town: India`s emphatic win in Durban has set the tone for a high-voltage climax as the visitors go into the series-deciding third cricket Test against the Proteas here tomorrow seeking to record their first-ever series triumph on South African soil.
India, the world number one team, bounced back valiantly after an innings and 25 runs defeat in the first Test to level the series with an 87-run triumph in the second Test.
What seemed like a doomed tour after their shambolic batting in the opening Test suddenly came alive with a fightback in Durban, setting the stage for what promises to be an electrifying contest between two sides battling it out for the number one position.
The match is set to be played at a venue where India have never won, with a draw in 1993 being their best result here.
In all, India have played three Tests at the Newlands Cricket Ground and ended up on the losing side twice (by 282 runs in 1997 and by five wickets in 2007).
But the morale-boosting triumph in Durban means that having history against them would hardly matter for Dhoni`s men when they step on the field tomorrow.
Most of the credit for the turnaround in India`s fortunes goes to the return from injury of pace spearhead Zaheer Khan and middle-order batting mainstay VVS Laxman.
In fact, in Durban, the 96-run second innings knock of Laxman and the six wickets by Zaheer were ultimately the decisive contributions in what was a topsy-turvy match.
Zaheer`s presence was especially inspiring for the rest of the Indian bowling and S Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma, both struggling in the opening Test, found their rhythm in Durban.
Sreesanth was particularly lethal in the second innings, grabbing three wickets.
The batting, however, remains a bit of a concern as India collapsed in both the innings.
Had it not been for some good bowling that dismissed the South Africans for 131 in the first innings, India could well have been in trouble due to their famed batting line-up`s below-par show.
Murali Vijay, who came in the side to replace an injured Gautam Gambhir, could not make use of the opportunity and would most definitely be out if the regular had recovered completely from the hand injury he sustained during a practice session before the second Test.
Gambhir practised with his teammates at the net session yesterday and is likely to play the crucial match.