Disclaimer- This is not about why India should be top ranked but why this series result isn’t enough to take it away from them. The ranking points do indicate they are #1 but in the living rooms people may think otherwise and this post is meant to counter that.
Fallacy #1 – India shouldn’t be top ranked because they didn’t win this series.
Since we are just considering this series, India did not really do anything to question or jeopardize their #1 rank coming into it. They came to South Africa with a dinosaur on their back of never winning, not even drawing a series and practically lost the first test on the first day, but eventually ended up drawing the series, which establishes the team’s resilience unquestionably. The first test served as a practice match that they didn’t play on this tour. Last 2 tests saw them applying the lessons learnt and won the second test, which by all accounts on paper should have favored SA.
In the third test, at no point SA had a chance to win while India had (possibly) two – 1) on day 4 when Harbhajan Singh took 2 from 2 overs bringing SA to 4/64 and 2) a possible chase (although unlikely) on day 5. So what this actually says is that India were better in the last 2 tests. I’m going to ignore the batting here for simplicity because the batting looked pretty balanced for both sides at the start and they ended up doing almost equally well (or not so much) overall – failures, comebacks and all. Given India has a weaker bowling department relatively, SA had a clear edge and as in a Test series, we all know bowlers win games.
Zaheer Khan is the spearhead for India and that’s where the consistency ends. Steyn, Morkel and Tsotsobe can all bowl faster than any Indian bowler and that comes in handy when you’re bowling on wickets with bounce. What has kept India going is the tenacious support and resilience that Zaheer receives from other bowlers (and from the voices that Sreesanth hears in his mind) from time to time while their bench strength remains zilch.
Fallacy #2 – India shouldn’t be top ranked because they didn’t chase 340 in the last test.
This is absolute rubbish. Firstly, in the history of the game, chasing 340 is just shy of mammoth. Secondly chasing at 3.8 per over on the last day is no mean task, especially when in 10 out of 11 previous innings in this series no team has gone beyond 3.5 per over. Thirdly, SA bowled too many deliveries that can be left alone in the second innings and they were. Not to mention Harris who kept pitching in the rough, which happened to be outside leg stump for all but 1 of India’s top-order. And lastly, Smith was too chicken to give SA – in SA – a chance to win by declaring around 300, which, again historically, is a very steep target to chase – especially when he had an opportunity to subject India to Steyn – Morkel spell of wrenching 10 overs with a new ball on day 4.
Fallacy #3 – India shouldn’t be top ranked because England should be.
Total hogwash. England have improved greatly in recent times but they are still to beat SA and India – the top 2 teams. Yes, they have beaten Australia in Australia but this Australia is so confused and decrepit, and so beaten. When England beats India and SA they can take over. Jimmy Anderson is still a pussy (albeit a one with the best seam position at the release of a delivery). Outside of green wickets he’ll be more lost than a strand of grass from Sri Lankan pitches.
Fallacy #4 – Paul Harris is a spinner.
This statement is the greatest invention since Bush’s WMD in Iraq.
At the end of it all however, few facts were reinforced – that there’s no one better than Steyn, that Kallis is still the best all-rounder cricket has seen (screw Botham), that Tendulkar is going to score some more centuries, that an inelegant shot is not in Laxman’s repertoire, that Ishant Sharma is the only bowler in the world who shows his underwear during each delivery.
Guest Article by Viren Patel
Blessed with the natural ability to bowl an outswinger and the nous to play as an opening batsmen, Viren has been the captain of his team in the eastern coast of U.S. for the last few years and has played, watched and pondered cricket for all of his life. Either driving 200 miles to play a weekend league game, or staying up through the nights to watch cricket matches, he is your quintessential cricket tragic. You can follow him on Twitter @virenp98 and occasionally blogs at “Red and Burning“