Two exceptional Test matches leave cricket fans breathless, wanting more

Rana Malook reflects on England's win over India as well as South Africa's gutsy draw against Australia, and how the next two Tests could be even better.

Like James Cameron's Avatars singing in tandem, cricket fans around the world sang in perfect harmony songs of praise for two of the most thrilling test matches in recent memory. Here were two games played in totally different conditions, at totally different tempos, yet both were relentless in their pursuit for your satisfaction.

Whilst Faf Du Plesis was meticulously constructing his innings with the type of concentration Jeremy Renner required in Hurt Locker, KP was dropping bombs of his own in Mumbai. The Collateral damage to Indian minds meant the hosts all but folded like warm laundry, losing by 10 wickets.

Du Plesis on the other hand left the field dripping with sweat having single handedly extinguished the Australian fire, helping Saffers rescue a draw from the jaws of defeat.

The common denominator in both cases was that both sides fought like cornered tigers and prevailed. Things looked grim for England after the first Test, a morale sapping defeat. But the tourists retaliated by inflicting a humiliating defeat of their own. South Africa looked down and out at 45-4 chasing 430 with Australia having ample time to bowl them out, before their respective resistence.

The fickle and exaggerated nature of praise by the media that comes with such triumph is as inevitable as is the condemnation that accompanies failure. However the thing that'll get seasoned cricket observers truly salivating will be the realization that the best is probably yet to come, with both series now so deliciously poised.

England could potentially be on their way to a historic series win in India, so deep must surely be the psychological wounds inflicted by KP on the Indian spinners. Yes , Monty is probably worthy of his bowling bat suit as is Swann of his Robin tights, both bowled with great control and aggression.

However the ease with which KP all but destroyed the Indian spin attack whilst most otehrs struggled, must be a grave concern for Dhoni. Many have argued that KP plays his best cricket when under pressure or with something to prove.

Whilst the point may carry some weight, it's important to note KP has the kind of mercurial talent that is beyond analysis. Arguably the best innings I've seen him play previously saw him reverse flat bat Murali over cover point for six, he wasn't under any pressure then.

With the England spin twins surfing high on this performance in addition, England surely have the upper hand going into the third battle of the series.

South Africa also are my pick for stealing the series against the Aussies, who lets face it despite being on top haven't been good enough to win a test match. We've seen in the series that being on top and converting supremacy into victory are two entirely different things.

In the latest test they fell at the last hurdle once more, albeit hindered by the injury to Pattinson. His absence from the rest of the series will add weight to the aforementioned prediction as he's been one of Australia's most potent bowling weapons. Were it not for the 22 year old's side injury the result may have been a little different.

As it was despite Siddle's valiant last minute efforts the tourist pulled off a draw which will remain long in the memory for debutant Du Plesis. The contrasting run rates by the two sides meant this was one of the most fascinating test matches to spectate, it truly was Test cricket at its entertaining best.

Who are your picks for each of the third tests?

image: © somethingness

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