Contributions of Murali Vijay and Shami worth more than the statistics
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Murali Vijay scored 45 runs across two innings in the first Test. Mohammed Shami's overall returns at the Wanderers, meanwhile, were five wickets at the cost of 155 runs. Once the dust settles on the Wanderers Test, Vijay and Shami might well be reduced to being part-players in the bigger scheme of the battle. Their impact sure to be diluted over time.
In years to come, Jo'burg 2013 will be remembered more by the rearguard efforts of Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, and the precocious centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. Not to forget, the fortune-oscillating final day and the pulsating last session with the debate regarding South Africa's decision to back-out of the run-chase sure to rage on unceasingly.
The contributions of Vijay and Shami were worth more than the statistics. These were no walk-on roles. Certainly not as far as India were concerned. If Vijay was the catalyst for India's dominance in their second innings, Shami was their relentless enforcer with the ball both times South Africa batted.
His attrition-themed essay on the third day might have been dwarfed by Pujara and Kohli's 222-run stand that followed. But it was the right-handed opener's resilience, doggedness and discipline that had really set up the foundation for the visitors. Vijay's 39 came off 94 deliveries. More importantly, he spent two-and-a-half hours at the crease. During that time, he had not only seen off the new ball he had also defused the heat created by Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.
It was he who had neutralised the early challenge. It was Vijay who had laid the brickwork that Pujara and Kohli turned into a skyscraper. His end was unfortunate too. Just when he looked primed to open up, he got a little tickle down the leg-side off an innocuous delivery from Jacques Kallis. By then, he had showcased the willingness to leave balls outside his off-stump, a resolute defence and also not be deterred from driving the loose ball from Steyn, his proposed nemesis, to the boundary even if it meant a barrage of bouncers from the premier pacer.