India no longer dependant on Sachin only
The series-levelling victory over South Africa in the second Test in Duban proves that India are no longer a one-man team and can win matches without champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar`s contribution, feels former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram.
After losing the series opener in Centurion by an innings and 25 runs, India came back strongly to beat South Africa by 87 runs in the second Test at Kingsmead yesterday.
"Even on a wicket like Durban, India performed exceptionally well. The team played like a unit. It`s a team that does not rely on the services of one particular player. I remember, in our times, it was Sachin Tendulkar all the time.”
"Ten years back whenever we would get Sachin out, it was all over for India. But now, the scenario is different. The opposition team has to make sure that they get all the batsmen before breathing easy," Akram said.
The cricketer-turned-commentator also said with the Durban win India has justified its number one status in world cricket.
"I feel India have got the vital ingredients like character, leadership, consistency and self belief. India is on top of the world. It`s the No. 1 Test team and it justified it in Durban. Many, including me believed that India would struggle in South Africa. But they have certainly proved everyone wrong," Akram said.
He was also full of praise for fit-again Zaheer Khan, who after mising the first Test returned to the team in Durban and spearheaded India`s bowling show to bundle out South Africa for 131 and 215 in the first and second innings respectively.
"Zaheer`s presence certainly lifts the morale of the team. I have always believed that Zaheer is the best bowler in world cricket today. He is out-and-out a wicket-taking bowler. County cricket has made him the bowler he is today. He bowls well with the new ball and also reverses the old one.
"Zaheer is on a par with the best in the business like Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel," said the Sultan of Swing.
Akram also hailed man-of-the-match VVS Laxman`s contribution and said the stylish Hyderabadi batsman showed why he is India`s best bet on foreign soil with his match-winning knocks of 38 and 96 in Durban.
"Laxman is certainly a class apart. Players like Rahul Dravid and Laxman have the perfect mix of experience, consistency and talent," he said.
"Laxman has also got an amazing temperament. And the best part is that he performs when it matters. His track record reveals he always scores when the team is in trouble," he added.
With India languishing at 148 for seven, Laxman stitched a vital 70-run eighth-wicket stand with Zaheer in the second innings to help the visitors set a challenging target of 303 runs.
"Not only can he (Laxman) play well in the middle-order but also sticks it out with the tail-enders. He is at the prime of his batting. According to me, Laxman certainly falls in the list of top four batsmen in the world," Akram said.