CHENNAI: The South Africans surprised all cricket aficionados by beating the formidable Indian team led by Virat Kohli 2-1 to win the series at Cape Town.
Considering the odds, it was a historic win for the Proteas. For a young side that was undergoing transition, one that saw a retirement mid-series and to come back from 0-1 down against the top-ranked side in the world is just the beginning of good things to come. The one man who played a key role in South Africa's sweet success is Keegan Petersen.
Petersen's gait, posture and method of play reminds one of Gus Logie of West Indies who was part of the formidable side led by Clive Lloyd.
Logie had to wait for his turn to bat and vie for a spot in a team that had a star-studded line-up filled with the likes of Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Vivian Richards and Lloyd, but eventually, managed to play 52 Tests.
Petersen, on the other hand, has no such worry as he gets to bat at No 3 for South Africa and his place is secure for now, more so after his credible show against India.
The 28-year old showed lot of pluck in handling the strong Indian attack and his patience and endurance enabled him to score match-winning fifties in both innings at Cape Town.
He was rightly adjudged player of the match and the player of the series for accumulating 276 runs.
"It hasn't (historic win) sunk in yet. It's a mixed bag to be honest. Happy, emotional. I was trying to be positive and then build on that. It's been difficult conditions all around and was just sticking to my guns," said an elated Petersen after his team's win.
India' had a far superior attack than South Africa. Their bowlers had helped India win a series in Australia and perform brilliantly in England. So, any team that plays against India had to work hard to put runs on the board. Petersen stuck to his basics and emerged triumphant.
"It's been challenging surfaces, challenging bowling attacks. We knew it was going to be difficult, they (India) are a high-quality bowling attack, a high-quality team. We just wanted to have the mindset to fight it out. Enjoying it (success) a lot. The longer you bat, the easier it gets (on these pitches). So, just enjoyed it a lot,'' said Petersen.
South Africa coach Mark Boucher was pleased with his team's performance. He complimented his team for their all-round effort in beating a strong side like India. He had nothing but nice words for Dean Elgar, who is leading the young side by example.
"He (Petersen) is in a good position to have a guy like Dean Elgar next to him, who really does back him and he is a tough nut. Batting at No 3, you've got to be tough, you've got to know your game, you've got to be technically sound. It's a very tough position to play in. The way he (Petersen) has come through in this series, I am lost for words. In a big series like this, against big players, to be the man of the series is fully deserved," complimented Boucher.
Petersen has been receiving praise from several cricketers for showing a lot of resilience, taking bodily blows and serving his team's cause. Many predict a bright future for him. What was impressive in his batting was his application, concentration and willpower.
"Very much impressed by Petersen's performance. He is a very good player. He is one player to watch out for in the future,'' said former India player Hemang Badani.