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The charge of the youth brigade
Krishnamachari Srikkanth - 12 October 2001

Let me begin by doffing my hat to the Indian team. I definitely didn't expect them to come back and win after they had put up only 233 on the board. It was, as my good friend Geoffrey Boycott repeatedly said, a working total at best. A determined Indian outfit, though, turned it into a winning score.

For me the best part was that it was the bowlers who were the stars. Harbhajan Singh provided, quite literally, the turning point as far as the Indians were concerned. He has become a match-winner these days, and his exceptional spell in the middle overs all but sealed the game in India's favour.

Harbhajan Singh
©CricInfo
The young and talented off-spinner struck a beautiful rhythm from the beginning and not a single South African batsman looked settled against him. The ball that got Kallis, in particular, was a beauty. It is not often that you see an off-spinner beat a batsman who has stepped out to him with an away going delivery. This is a ball more commonly used in Tests. It says a lot about the confidence and enormous abilities of the man they call the 'Turbanator' that he brought off such a spectacular dismissal in a one-dayer. I have no doubts that Harbhajan shall continue to play an important role as the series progresses. Anil Kumble also bowled a steady line and length and struck a fine partnership with his young spinning partner.

In the midst of all this, let us not forget the medium-pacers. Both Agarkar and Srinath bowled a much-improved line in this match, and the initial wickets that they claimed were important in helping India achieve this win.

The attacking bowling was backed by positive captaincy. Sourav Ganguly is a captain who takes chances on the field. That is how a captain should be and this indeed is how I would like to see cricket played.

The Indian batting, though, was a big let down. They could easily have achieved a bigger total had they applied themselves on what was essentially a good batting wicket. I strongly feel that they need to be more consistent hence.

Yuvraj Singh
©AFP
Virender Shewag
©CricInfo
What gave me heart though was the performance of the youngsters - Yuvraj Singh and Virender Shewag. Yuvraj is an exciting player and a match-winner. He can tear any bowling attack apart on his day. I have always held the view that this makes him a player who should be persisted with, even if he fails on occasions. Shewag also looked good during his 30-odd runs. But one thing that both young men should learn is to convert these attractive 30s and 40s into big knocks.

The Centurion has definitely been a lucky venue for the Indians in South Africa. It was here that we won our first one-dayer in South Africa in 1992, and now we have won the second India-South Africa one-dayer on this ground as well. What the team now needs to do is carry the good performance in the latest match to venues that have not been as kind to us in the past.

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