The Bull Ring at the Wanderers in Johannesburg never ceased to enthral the crowd with nail-biting matches and on the 15th January 2011, the story was no different. India, after crashing to a handsome defeat in the opening game, was up against it to stage a comeback.
The start wasn’t picture perfect for the Indians as they were bundled out for 190. However, South Africa stumbled at the finishing line and India hung in by a thread and hustled along to their maiden victory of the series.
We take you down memory lane and compiled some of the riveting moments during the game.
#7 Yuvraj Singh’s lone hand
After Virat Kohli’s departure in the 18th over, India dragged themselves into a hole at 63/2. Yuvraj Singh strode onto the arena with the task of resurrecting a wobbly start. He started with Tendulkar as his partner, but lost him to Botha, leaving India in more than a spot of bother.
After a subdued start, the left-hander eventually gained both in momentum and confidence as he manoeuvred the field to good effect. The boundaries were hard to come by, but it hardly fluttered Yuvraj and he made his half-century in 67 balls.
Along with MS Dhoni, Yuvraj set a launchpad for a flourishing finish, aided by a partnership of 83 runs.
#6 Wickets go down like nine-pins
Indian batsmen had got the measure of the South African attack as they cruised to 150/3 in the 37th over. Nevertheless, the Proteas bowlers were too good to be perturbed as they picked up the next seven Indian wickets at the cost of 42 more runs.
Yuvraj Singh perished to Lonwabo Tsotsobe through a mistimed lofted shot to mid-off and India never recovered from there on and were bundled out for a paltry 192 runs. The last six wickets fell for a meagre 23 runs as no batsman got to terms with the hostility of the fast bowlers.
#5 A horrendous batting power-play
It’s termed as a batting power-play, which was more of a temptation for batsmen to pick the bones out of everything and also an opportunity for bowlers to disturb any sort of momentum for the batting side.
The batting power-play was taken in the 41st over with MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina in the firing line. To India’s dismay, Suresh Raina was trapped plumb in front in the opening delivery of the power-play.
The power-play turned from bad to worse as they lost their skipper M.S. Dhoni through an inside-edge and on to the wickets. Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan Singh followed suit and India’s batting power-play painfully ended for 14 runs at the cost of five wickets.
#4 Lonwabo Tsotsobe’s tremendous spell
The Indian team boasted of an explosive batting line-up and putting the lid on the scoring was a daunting task for any bowler. With Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel leading the attack, Lonwabo Tsotsobe was the predicted weak link.
However, he converted the weakness into a strength and strangled the Indians with a spell of 10-2-22-4. He got rid of Murali Vijay during the mandatory power-play, broke the backbone of their batting by nailing Yuvraj Singh and added further despair by dismissing Raina and Dhoni during the batting power-play.
It was because of Tsotsobe that India were never allowed to step on the gas after a solid stand between Dhoni and Yuvraj.
#3 Graeme Smith - The thorn in India’s flesh
With a modest target of 191, it was South Africa’s match to surrender and India, with their backs to the wall, had to pull out something spectacular to crawl back into the game. Nevertheless, Graeme Smith was stubborn enough to not let India a foot into the door.
He played some glorious strokes and churned out singles and doubles to carry South Africa to 152 in 32 overs when he eventually dragged on a delivery by Munaf Patel onto the timber. Till Smith’s presence in the middle, India was all at bay.
He first set in a 59-run stand with Colin Ingram and then eked out a petite, but handy partnerships with JP Duminy and David Miller.
#2 The substitute fielders
They say eleven players form a team, but this time two men from outside the line-up turned pivotal in India’s vigil to defend a below-par total. David Miller threatened to take the match by the scruff of the neck and with South Africa requiring 30 odd runs in 17 overs, South Africa was all over India.
But a handsome catch by substitute fielder Piyush Chawla off the bowling of Zaheer Khan pinned down the big fish. There was yet another piece of sheer brilliance by a substitute fielder, now at the threshold of victory when Yusuf Pathan pouched a mistimed timed cut shot by Morne Morkel to leave South Africa nine down and three runs to get.
The game displayed the importance of bench strength and its inseparability from the game. It also demonstrated the significance of having safe fielders who can serve well when required.
#1 Munaf Patel’s final nail in South Africa’s coffin
The game had come all the way down to the wire with both teams fighting tooth and nail to sneak pass the finishing line; it couldn’t have got any better. South Africa stood at three runs to win and India required a solitary wicket to draw level in the series.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe, after his heroics with the ball, now was in with the role of supporting Wayne Parnell. He picked up the most valuable single of his entire career as he turned the strike over to let Parnell face the music.
Crushing the Proteas’ expectations, Munaf Patel snapped up Parnell, handing them a defeat by a solitary run. A delivery that had boundary written all over it went straight into the palms of India’s safest fielder in Yuvraj Singh.