Normal services have resumed as India plays at home ,completing the World record of 11 consecutive home series win thereby beating Australia’s earlier record of 10 consecutive series wins (achieved twice). India were ruthless as they mauled the South Africans in 2nd test by an innings and 137 runs–their biggest winning margin ever against the Proteas. It was all set up on a fine batting pitch at Pune in the 1st 2 days as first Mayank Agarwal led the way with a fine 108 after Rohit missed out. Played wonderfully all round the park Mayank was not flustered after he was klonked on his helmet by a quick bouncer from debutant quick Anrich Nortze , choosing him out for special treatment after that hit. Pujara looked set for a 100 when he got out against run of play to impressive Rabada for 58 which brought Kohli into play and what an innings the Indian skipper played !! It was a typical Kohli masterclass, being watchful at the start ,trying to gauge the pace of the pitch and then gradually shifting one level of gear as he started to get into the stroke playing rhytm. Survived a tough caught behind early on 2nd day off Philander but after that never looked back as he started to unfurl his dazzling array of cricketing shots without taking much risks. Hitting 33 sparkling fours and 2 sixes, his one straight drive off Rabada ,hit with poise and balance was worth travelling miles to watch .Kohli was well supported by Rahane (59) and later Jadeja ,who played aggressively for 91 when Kohli declared at 601/6 with Jadeja missing out on his ton. The skipper himself chose against going for a triple hundred as he was looking to get maximum possible overs at the Protea batters. Hence he sportingly closed out with himself at 254 notout ,his highest test score and his 7th double ton, highest by an Indian in tests.
The Proteas , had one session of poor batting at Vizag , the 1st session on last day which lost them the test. They were very impressive in 1st innings of 1st test with Elgar and Decock scoring fabulous hundreds. However on a much better batting pitch ,at Pune ,the visitors inexplicably folded up for below 300 in both innings with their top order being blown away in both digs . In the 1st innings Deplessis batted well for 64 but the best partnership came from their bowling allrounders, Philander(44*)and Maharaj (sparkling 72). Umesh Yadav , added as the 3rd pacer on this pitch made a good comeback with 3/37 in first innings bowling some hostile overs. With Ashwin crunching the middle order with 4 scalps ,the Proteas were allout 275 and hence were made to follow on on 4th morning. In the 2nd innings it was the same horror story, with Elgar(48) and Bavuma(38) unable to go on and the rest surrendered meekly. Philander (37) and Maharaj(22) only delayed the inevitable as the Indian bowlers shared the wickets with Umesh and Jadeja getting 3 apiece with some splendid slip catching from Rohit and Rahane and top class wicket keeping by Saha, who took 2 blinders in 2nd innings. South Africa were allout for 189 in 2nd innings and lost the test by innings and 137 runs and with that the series while Kohli got the man of the match for his double ton. More importantly, India are now leading comfortably with 200 points after winning 4 consecutive tests since the World test championships points system have started.
The Indian team currently looks well settled with a good opening batting combination. Rohit’s reinstation in the team has also helped in getting another quality slip catcher. The top five looks settled but Vihari’s spot at 6 will be vulnerable at home as India look to play 5 specialist bowlers . After a slightly hesitant comeback at Vizag ,Saha looked agile behind the stumps at Pune. Umesh Yadav getting 6 wickets in 2nd test will be good for his confidence. Ashwin and Jadeja will keep getting wickets in home conditions. All things considered, India will probably go into the 3rd test with same combination .
South Africa in the last two decades ,had done reasonably well in India , drawing a few series and winning one in 2000. Those were the times when they had some greats in their squad like Kallis, Pollock, Donald, Kirsten, Smith, Amla, Dvilliers ,Steyn and Morkel. The current squad is probably their weakest in recent memory and is further dented with the recent time retirements of Dvilliers, Amla, Morkel and Steyn. They are clearly going through a transformation stage. They still do have some quality in their side in Duplessis , Decock, Elgar, Rabada and Philander. However their seniors are not firing consistently . Their batting not only struggled against the spinners but also against quality pace of India. Their bowling looks impotent with only Rabada looking capable of troubling the Indians but he too is having a patchy run. Their spinners have looked totally flat with Maharaj’s best contributions coming as a batter. Currently the scenario does not look too good for them , not to forget they even lost to Srilanka 2-0 in their last series played at home. At present they look incapable of challenging India in Indian conditions. They need their seniors to perform in unison and their youngsters to be well guided. May be they can look at a change in their batting with Zubayr Hamza ,known as a talented young batter playing in the XI in the 3rd test .
Currently things look well set for India to take this series 3-0.