The first Test between India and South Africa was a thriller with fortunes fluctuating, especially on the last day. There will be debate about whether South Africa should have gone for a win or not, and that will probably never be resolved many years later too.
Suffice it to say that it will go down in history as one of the greatest Test matches played even though England and Australia are not a part of it. Generally the 'greatest' term is reserved for what the old powers do, but the genuine lovers of the game know what is the real thing and what is just pumped up by sustained propaganda.
As expected, both teams blamed each other and Graeme Smith suggested that India were afraid of losing and so had defensive fields, which ironically he himself had employed when the Pujara-Kohli partnership was flourishing.
The fact is today’s skippers know to play practical cricket and not look to win brownie points by doing things that will get them one day’s headlines but a lifetime of curses.
From the Indian point of view, its batsmen, who were supposed to be shell-shocked, scarred and softened up by the pacers in the one-dayers, showed tremendous application, determination and debunked the theory that they play well only on pitches where there is no bounce.
The judgement around the off stump was terrific and that was the hallmark of their cricket. Kohli, in particular, had been the target of a lot of unflattering comments after he had got struck in the ribs, and he played two outstanding innings and is still waiting for a retraction of the comments made about him.
That is like expecting the moon of course, but he is the new face of Indian cricket, and along with Pujara, Vijay, Dhawan, Rahane and Rohit, should carry the torch forward.
Cricket is a funny game, and only those who have never played it at the highest level will jump to conclusions about those who play it because it is so much easier to do. How true that is can be seen in the United Arab Emirates where Mohammad Hafeez has got three consecutive centuries to join a rare band of batsmen who have done so.
Hafeez, popularly known as 'the professor', was not in the best of form while Pakistan went to South Africa last month and Steyn got him out regularly. His place in the team was also questioned, but he has responded with such a fine run of scores that should make the doubters happy.
For his outstanding batting, he is the CEAT International cricketer of the week.
Professional Management Group