Papers praise thrilling South Africa-India Test

Fast bowlers played a key role in taking India close to victory
Image caption Fast bowlers played a key role in taking India close to victory

The gripping finale of the first Test between India and South Africa will go down in cricket's history books as one of the most memorable matches, papers say.

South Africa fell eight runs short of a world-record run chase but secured a draw in Johannesburg by finishing on 450-7.

The match had many dramatic moments as both teams looked close top securing a famous win on the final day - but in the end cricket was the winner.

The "victory of the sport" comes in the backdrop of the Test cricket's dwindling popularity and papers feel such matches will help the revival of what many see as the "original format of the game".

"Who cares if India didn't win? Who cares that they are not one up in the series? It was the sport that raised its bat and took a bow after the seven-hour thriller," says The Times of India.

The Hindu says "this was a draw in which cricket triumphed".

"There was no triumph. There was no loss. In the end, it was a draw. But if ever a stalemate was as gripping as this, cricket historians are still searching for it," it adds.

The Hindustan Times gives credit to both teams for once again proving that the longer format of the game is not dying and is here to stay.

"The final day of the first Test of the two match series between India and South Africa proved every bit of a pot-boiler it promised to be, ending in one of the most thrilling draws in recent memory," it says.

The India Today magazine sums up the mood, saying "either side didn't deserve to lose in such an epic Test".

Georgian queen

Moving on to other news, the Indian army has denied reports that Chinese troops crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the two countries, last week and set up a camp in the disputed region of Ladakh, the Deccan Herald reports.

"There was no incursion and no face-off," the report quotes an army officer as saying, and adds that military officials from both sides held a flag meeting on Saturday to coordinate responses "in future cases of inadvertent crossing by porters and animals".

Meanwhile, India looks all set to win recognition from the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a polio-free country, The Asian Age says in a report.

If India reports no polio cases by January, the WHO will grant the country its coveted "polio-free" tag - two years after it struck India off its list of polio-endemic countries, the report says.

India has brought down its polio cases from 150,000 in 1985 to zero in the last three years.

Elsewhere, after marking the festivals of Holi, Diwali and Durga Puja earlier this year, Hindu widows in the northern town of Vrindavan celebrated Christmas on Sunday, defying traditional expectations for them to shun festivals and lead a simple life, the Hindustan Times reports.

"Wearing red Santa caps and singing carols, the women soaked in the spirit of Yuletide," the report says, adding that this was "the first instance of widows in the city associated with Lord Krishna celebrating Christmas".

And finally, the "first ancient DNA study in South Asia" has found that a 400-year-old bone relic excavated from a Goa church is likely to be the remnant of a Georgian queen born in 1565, The Hindu reports.

Researchers say the bone might be of Queen Ketevan, a national icon in Georgian history who was captured by Emperor Shah Abbasi I of the Persian empire, and whose remains were believed to have been brought to India by an Augustinian friar, the report adds.

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