After fighting tooth and nail for first 4 days of the test, South Africa were simply blown away by Indian bowlers on the 5th day of the first test , and had it not been for same late rearguard action from spinners Peidt and Muthuswamy, the Proteas would have been shot out for under 100 runs as they were 70/8 at one stage.
The day started with Debruyn bowled by Ashwin ,unable to read his tricks. That opening was enough for Md Shami to start his ,now famous 2nd innings heroics. After the Johannesburg test in 2018 in which Shami’s lethal 2nd innings spell blew away the Proteas, it was another lethal 2nd innings stuff which had the visitors in total disarray. Of his 5 victims, 4 were bowled and it all started with Bavuma (0) unable to handle a rapidly incoming delivery which kept low and spreadeagled the stumps with Bavuma on the ground totally bewildered. Soon Duplessis (13) made an error of judgement ,leaving an incoming ball with his stumps flying. Decock ,who looked so fluent in first innings ,missed the line of a straight delivery and lost his off stump. Jadeja not to be left far behind , had a superb caught and bowled of Markram (39) and then proceeded to get lbws against Philander for a pair and Maharaj. It was then , the only partnership of substance occurred between spinning allrounders with both Muthuswamy and Peidt batting superbly to delay the Indian win with a spirited 91 stand .Both the players unleashed impressive strokes ,till finally Shami had Peidt (56) played on and later had Rabada (18) caught behind after some resistance as the visitors were allout 191 with Muthuswamy left unconquered on 49. Shami ,once again living upto his reputation as a “2nd innings destroyer” taking 5/35 with Jadeja chipping in with 4/87. It was a brilliant effort by Shami who bowled with fire ,getting back his rhytm and zip which was missing in his first innings spells.
South Africa will be very dissappointed with his last day effort ,after such a spirited display till the 4th day. Their first innings efforts led by Elgar and Decock was brilliant but that confidence could not get translated in the 2nd knock. In batting the visitors now need to play Hamza in place of Debruyn, who looked all at sea against the spinners. Their bowling needs some more firepower. They need to shed their bowling inhibitions by playing their best possible bowlers and with a bit more thrust on pace. They need to realise that their strength lies in pace and so Lungi Ngidi replacing one of the spinners should be actively considered. The batting approach which they showed in the 1st innings should be their template going forward. Overall they need to play with confidence and aggression to counter the Indian challenge. Three pacers is a must for their bowling combination.
India ,on other hand had played most of their cards right. Rohit and Mayank should be their opening pair for a while now. Rohit went about smashing records ,being the first opener to score twin tons on debut and hitting maximum amount of sixes by a batter in a test match (13) smashing Akram’s record (12) . The rest of the batting hardly got tested after the twin tons by openers in the first innings. In bowling , there are definite areas of improvement. Shami needs to replicate his 2nd innings heroics in first innings more often. Ashwin and Jadeja both looked impotent for major part of 1st innings specially when Decock and Elgar were going great guns. Also first innings field settings looked bit questionable at times. When Decock ,Elgar and earlier Duplessis were batting well and with aggression, as a prudent captain, one needs to hold back the reins and try to plug out their scoring areas when wickets are not falling. At times one needs to dry up the runs by taking defensive approach and that leads to wickets invariably as the batters these days get frustrated with slower runrate but the Indians tried to attack too hard during that phase and conceded easy boundaries which gave the visitors some confidence. The Aussies adopted this run choking approach many times in the ashes when wickets were hard to come by and it invariably lead to fall of wickets. Also the spinners tried too hard in the first innings to bowl to the rough ,instead of relying on their own skills which affected their first innings show ,though Ashwin took 7 wickets in the first innings with better show towards the later stages of the innings.
Even against the fast bowlers , at times the slips are standing too far apart rather than a bit more close which resulted in quite a few edges flying past slips and not going to hand of Indian fielders.
With centuries in each innings as opener , Rohit Sharma walks away with the man of the match award.
With India finally winning handsomely and notching up 40 more points in World test championships table, we dont expect any changes in the XI for next test.