The Indian Premier League will take centre stage next month but connoisseurs of Test cricket will be eagerly awaiting the rematch between India and South Africa later this year following a thrilling finale to the series yesterday. Only nine balls of the second Test at Eden Gardens in Kolkata were left when Harbhajan Singh claimed the final wicket of Morne Morkel, the South Africa tailender, to wrap up an innings victory, which levelled the series and kept India at the summit of the Test rankings ahead of their valiant opponents.
Defeat was rough on Hashim Alam, the defiant Proteas No 3, who dropped anchor for more than eight hours and faced 394 balls to keep the hosts at bay. He finished unbeaten on 123 not out, his second century of the match, and at least had the consolation of finishing with the man-of-the-match and the man-of-the-series awards. Harbhajan was the hero for India, his 25th Test five-wicket haul extending his impressive record at Eden Gardens to 46 wickets in seven matches.
"We are very happy and it's fantastic to win the way we did," said Harbhajan. "The heart was pumping in the end. We wanted to be at the top of the table; we know we have the players to keep being No 1." MS Dhoni, the India captain, was a relieved man after seeing his side eventually deliver the knockout blow having dominated the whole match. "We would have been very disappointed had we not won this game," he said. "There wasn't much I could do, so I wasn't under so much pressure. We were 1-0 down in the series and we always want and are expected to win when we play at home.
"In the second innings we lost Zaheer, but the other three bowlers did very well and if you take into account that we lost an entire day to weather, the victory is remarkable." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org