The Test series was billed as the contest between South Africa's pace-heavy attack
against India's brittle batting line-up. However, much to everyone's surprise, the
events over the last four days witnessed a complete reversal of expectations. In a
line-up with stars like Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs, only one player,
Ashwell Prince, looked at ease in both innings while the rest capitulated.
His 24 in the first innings was the top-score in South Africa's sorry total of 84.
In the second, he fell painfully short of recording a ton, gutsing it out even as
the procession to the pavilion continued, and putting a price on his wicket. He
resumed on 54, with Mark Boucher for company but Boucher's early fall dented South
Africa further. With Shaun Pollock playing his strokes, Prince kept his cool at the
other end, and the pair looked to pull off a minor miracle.
His first boundary of the day was off Zaheer Khan, a streaky one though, past the
slips. But the bowler he was particularly harsh on was VRV Singh, with neatly timed
strokes all round the park. He picked up two successive boundaries on the off-side
off Singh, one through the covers and the other blasted past point. Singh was in for
some more punishment, as he leaked three consecutive boundaries in one over, as
Prince began to look positively dangerous. The first was down to third man, the
second punished to square leg and the third, neatly driven past the covers.
His only false stroke was a top edge off Singh, which was fortunately off a no ball.
It required the most experienced of the Indian bowlers - Anil Kumble - to end his
resistance, bowled through the gate while attempting a drive on the off side. A tame
dismissal in the end, but full credit to the way he gritted it out with little or no
support from the other end. Kallis aside, India will need a proper gameplan against
Prince in the remaining games.