Newlands: A game full of Spice, ironically, won by Proteas and not India. 

SA vs India match had more spice than the chicken curry.

I sit here indulging in my Indian-ness, eating a chicken curry that is flavoured well but still somehow the SA vs India match seems spicier. Yes, I said it, the cricket match between SA and India was spicier than the chicken curry in front of me. How you may wonder? Lets begin. 

In the 5 day match being played at Newlands, the Proteas have managed to beat the Indian Cricket team by the end of play on day 4. Winning on day 4, what an achievement against the number 1 ranked test team but it gets even better if you take into consideration that play on day 3 was rained out completely. The rain that interrupted the day may have also added more spice to the mix but we shall get to that soon enough.

Attending day one, on an ever so beautiful summers day at Newlands, got off to the scariest of starts for a Proteas fan.  The Proteas won the toss and elected to field, but soon afterwards that decision was questioned as the Proteas were in trouble at 13-3 with only a few overs bowled. I remember sitting there and wondering whether getting 50 shades darker, as it was extremely hot and I had no cover, was worth watching this day of cricket but the die hard fan in me guttered it out, thankfully.

Over after over, with the runs slowly ticking over, the day progressed. The Proteas never seemed to take control of the match and India kept chipping away wickets and therefore reducing any expection of the Proteas scoring a big total. So much so that the score of 286 that we achieved seemed decent in our heads but believe me, we fans were aiming higher, much higher. I need to add that Indian Bowlers were good, especially Bhuvneshwar Kumar and credit will be given were due. That total of 286 was achieved by some resistence from AB DE Villers and Faf Du Plessis who stuck it out to steady the ship. Remember, Proteas were at 13-3 when these two came together and it was vital that AB and Faf get a score behind their names and like true heroes they did just that.

However, even heroes of the game need help and that’s why cricket is a team sport. ABD and Faf could only do so much but even they succumbed to the seam bowling of India, leaving SA still with an inadequate score, +/-200,  to be considered competitive at Newlands. There stepped in Quinton De Kock and our tail enders who really stepped up to make our score presentable. Sorry De Kock but my highlight was the batsman after you, who scored a combined score of 102. These men, Keshav, Philander, Rabada, Steyn and Morkel, only lasted 9 balls but still will include, provided Newlands with some entertainment. Every run they scored, whether a single, four and even couple boundaries was cheered by the spectators and I applaud the tail enders for that.

Not to be outdone though, Indian tailenders also stepped up when there top order failed as well. None of their top batsmen really had any answers to the Proteas seam bowlers, including captain Virat Kohli as he edged the first ball he faced of Morne Morkel. The Proteas bowlers had also bowled extremely well and all looked well like it was going to be wrapped up, until out walked Hardik Pandya. This guy simply took his chance and played an innings even the opposing fans can cheer for. Oh how we waited and longed for his wicket but he kept hitting the ball sweetly to the boundary. Bhuvneshwar Kumar also provided him company in tormenting our bowlers. When Pandya finally got out though, there was an uproar from the crowd, we were estatic, but I also stood to applaud Pandya which I don’t know if he realized were people also applauding his innings. Our, Protea bowlers, also deserve applause as through our first innings Dale Steyn got injured and was ruled out of bowling in this match again and hence effectively we were one bowler short.

With our 73 lead, the Proteas got on their way on the afternoon of Day 2 looking to extend that lead to a total beyond India’s reach. Well that didn’t last long, as again Indian Bowlers started off well by getting 2 early wickets and that of the openers. The game for Day 2 ended that way with SA in a bit of trouble with thought of a possible batting collapse again but it just helped to keep suspense and excitement of game high for both teams. With day 3 going to be a vital day and hundreds of fans expecting exciting cricket, it did prove disheartening when the day was rained out. Hundreds of fans braving the rain, including me, to catch some action.

With clear skies and another beautiful summers day for cricket, day 4 got under way and India got off to an incredible start. The rain of the previous day added moisture to the pitch and assisted their bowlers  to the pointed that it demolished the Proteas hopes of scoring the 200 more they wanted to give their total some importance. The Proteas were soon bowled out for 130 and therefore with just a lead of 207. With that, the faith of South Africans were tested as that seemed chasable by India. Only something spectacular could save the Proteas and little did we know that spectacular moment was to come.

With one bowler shy, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel opened the bowling. Chances went by, decision overturned, boundaries were scored by the Indian openers and it came to a point were we thought “Ok, they are getting into a rhythm and are on their way to achieve our low total”. The line of never count your chickens before they have hatched though is true because one by one wickets started falling. Virat Kohli stuck around and again it was thoughts of, all they need is Virat to make a score and they are fine but his wicket too fell. Again it was tailenders like Ashwin who made the Proteas dig deep as Ashwin was nibbling the total of 208 down slowly. However it was not to be, as the Protea Bowlers and big Vern especially with his 6 wickets, proved up to the challenge by diligently keeping patient and doing what they do best. The Proteas hence pulled off a spectacular win in Newlands and was apart of a thrilling victory against India. This test shall be remembered for a long time.

So Proteas keep Newlands fans entertained and winning percentage healthy here in Cape Town. Now onto our next challenge and hopefully an equal or greater quality cricket match in Pretoria.

Dhashnie Pillay 

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