India Surrender Meekly at Durban.
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that an Indian cricket fan is subjected to! The rush of disparate and conflicting emotions he experiences! One week he (or she) is overjoyed with an improbable win and the next he is forced to comprehend the meekness of the latest defeat in a long and dreary list. No other team endorses the tiring cliche that cricket is a great leveler better.
Never, it would appear, are the fans to be allowed unalloyed joy for considerable periods of time. A great run in the world cup is followed by a disgraceful defeat in the final. First test victory in the West Indies for more than 25 years (Port of Spain) is followed immediately by a 10-wicket drubbing at Barbados. First test victory in England in more than 15 years (Leeds) could only balance an earlier defeat at the Lord's. First test victory in Australia for 24 years (Adelaide) is followed immediately by a 9-wicket loss in Melbourne. A win at Multan is followed by a defeat at Lahore. (For a change we actually went onto win this series at Rawalpindi.)
And now to add to this sorry tale comes the pathetic defeat at Durban following closely on the heels of the first ever victory in South Africa.
And quite often, on those occasions when India actually wins test series, the team duly loses in the one-days (as in West Indies this year). Or a stellar one-day phase is marred by disappointments in tests (as in the period preceding the West Indies tour). It will not do to be too happy for too long.
The fortune does not seem to favor us either. If God is playing dice then it is quite biased against Indian cricket team. Recalling all the instances when Indian team was denied test wins because of rain is a deeply painful exercise. Johannesburg ten years ago comes to mind, where India was just two wickets away from a win. On the other hand how many times rain promised a last-minute rescue for India only to cheat in the end. The way sun actually came out for a while today after a refreshingly gloomy start, one can not help but suspect a divine conspiracy against India. Though it has to be said, India was ridiculously inept today. A slightly more decent show could have saved them, what with clouds returning at the end. An unbiased person might almost see today's result as just.
The way Indian top order folded up today was truly embarrassing. The first six wickets fell in just 28 overs. The last four managed to last for another 28 overs. In every little period of play possible, we lost wickets. Sehwag went in the 8 overs before tea on the fourth day and Dravid was out just before bad light ended the day. Today Tendulkar left in the first over and Jaffer committed suicide eight balls later. Laxman and Ganguly survived for another 12 overs before perishing within 10 balls of each other. It was as if these mighty batsmen were going out of their way to ensure that South Africans don't face the disappointment so familiar to them (being denied victory because of bad weather). To be sure, there were a couple of umpiring mistakes, but they did not lose the match for India.
The batsmen will do well to get their act together in, well, two more days.