It finally turns out to be a ruthless performance by India , specially their pace attack, which completely decimated the top order of South African batting in both innings with brilliant exhibition of sustained fast bowling which included some classic wicket taking deliveries that even rattled the stumps of the South African batting lineup with some regularity.
The 3rd day of the 3rd test at Ranchi proved to be one of the darkest days of South African batting in recent memory from which it will take some time for them to come out of their mental scars . The Indian pace attack was outstanding even without their main strike force Jasprit Bumrah who is recovering from a stress fracture. Mohammed Shami has done enough in last one year to be counted amongst the top 5 fast bowlers in international cricket and Umesh Yadav has made a brilliant comeback to the test team at Pune and followed up with another stellar effort at Ranchi. On the 3rd morning Umesh produced the ball of the match to clean bowl Duplessis–with a ball that pitched and held its line , eluded the outside edge and hit top of off–a masterclass. That one delivery completely took the wind out of South Africa’s sails and though Zubayr Hamza (62) ,who should have featured in all the tests, played a high class knock negotiating both pace and spin well and having a good 91 run stand with Bavuma (32) , the visitors were always playing catch up and it was a matter of time before the spinners get their act together. Jadeja bowled the gallant Hamza with a ball keeping low as Hamza shaped to cut and Bavuma was rapidly stumped by Saha to give Shahbaz Nadeem making his debut at 30 ,his 1st test wicket. The rest of the batting folded up quickly for the Proteas to be allout for 162 in 1st innings and was asked to follow on. Before they could take stock of the situation, Decock’s offstump was sent cartwheeling by Umesh Yadav with batsman playing the wrong line. Hamza went in similar fashion to a classic Shami delivery and thus failed to repeat 1st innings heroics. Faf was lbw to a rapid incoming ball from Shami who was again taking over as the 2nd innings specialist, soon getting Bavuma caught behind for a duck. Elgar (16) looked to fight but Umesh’s short ball hit him hard on the side of his helmet as he took the eyes off the ball. He looked dazed and was withdrawn from the match with Debruyn getting in as concussed sub.Wickets fell rapidly and only George Linde as he did in his 1st innings 37, played another gritty innings of 27 and thus showing some spine to fight as a debutant. The match finally ended early on 4th day with Nadeem taking both wickets as Saha took a brilliant low catch to dismiss Debruyn and Ngidi was caught and bowled next ball off a rebound off the wrist of non striker Nortze to complete South Africa’s misery in more ways than one.
Rohit Sharma for his double hundred was the man of the match and also got the man of the series award for his prolific form as an opener as he hit 3 centuries in the series and totalled 529 runs at 132 average.
It was a terrible tour for South Africa and what’s more pathetic for them was that as a team they got progressively worse with margin of defeat increasing in every test– 202 runs, Innings and 137 runs , innings and 202 runs.The team totally disentrigated after their 1st innings of 431 at Vizag. The saddest part was that non of their senior or experienced players put their hands up. It cannot be said as an inexperienced side as many players in this team played 20 plus or 30 plus tests and some have batting averages around 40. From the batting point ,only Dean Elgar played well in couple of knocks with 232 runs for the series at 46 average. Decock was poor apart from his 1st test 111 and also struggled in his keeping. Just 2 fifty pluses and a string of low scores for the captain Faf. Bavuma could not total 100 in the series. Markram was a major disappointment. The batting on the whole lacked will power and the bowling lacked penetration with their spearhead Rabada only bowling well sporadically. Only two positives in Hamza and spinner Linde. Both the new players showed some resilience as Hamza should have played the full series and Linde showed lots of determination in 3rd test, in both bowling and batting , taking 4 wickets and totalling 64 runs for the match, being runout in 2nd innings. We have seen some very good South African teams visiting India in the past but this one has looked the most weakest. The piches unlike in 2015 were top class with good pace , bounce and carry and therefore supposedly to the liking of the visitors. supporting good cricket. With the next series against formidable England at home, its a big task cut out for South Africa as England are battle hardened after a close fought recent Ashes series with Australia.
India’s brilliant performance in this series does not lose any gloss due to spineless performance by South Africa as India themselves were outstanding , specially their fast bowling attack. They were lethal and relentless in applying pressure . The fielding was of high quality. Lots of positives for India in this series. The big success of Rohit Sharma as opener is certainly a big news as India has struggled in recent times with opening partnership. Maybe Rohit should have opened in tests much earlier but its nice to see that team management has finally realised Rohit’s importance at the top of the order. Adapting very well to the opening slot, Rohit was watchful at start playing close to his body and cutting out extravagant strokes outside off and went about increasing his aggression as his innings progressed unfurling his wide array of strokes. His next challenge is to replicate this success in overseas tours in more challenging conditions. Same applies to the other opener Mayank Agarwal who also was a great success totalling 340 runs for the series at 85 average with 2 hundreds. Kohli’s double hundred was another masterclass as his stocks keep growing as an all time great. Pujara had an average series statistically by his standards averaging 36. Rahane needed a 100 in India and has looked good while Jadeja came up with a great allround show with his 212 runs at 70 average and 13 wickets at 30 average plus his quicksilver fielding. Jadeja’s batting has really improved in the past one year since his 86 at the Oval. In bowling Ashwin topped the tally with 15 wickets but the fast bowlers looked relentless with both Shami (13 wickets) and Umesh (11 wickets in two games) looked in great rhytm and extremely lethal. It was nice to see Shahbaz Nadeem finally at 30 playing for India after stellar shows in domestic cricket and he did not dissappoint taking 4 wickets. At present Indian bowling attack is best in test cricket in all conditions with Australia, a close 2nd.
The Indian thinktank was extremely judicious in picking the best keeper to play the home series. Saha after a subdued 1st test after his comeback, was outstanding as a keeper in rest of the series, taking great catches, and was flawless in his keeping with 12 dismissals for the series. Thus it appears that Pant will have to wait longer to get back in the 1st XI. Few runs from Saha of his bat may well seal his spot for next few series.
One piece of statistic will conclusively underline India’s dominance over the Proteas. India took 60 wickets in this series as against a paltry 25 by the Proteas. This itself proves the helplessness of South Africa in this series who stay at zero points while India pockets 120 further points in the World championships and stay at top of the table with a staggering 240 points .
|Q de Kock||3||6||0||156||111||26.00||234||66.66||1||0||1||26||2|
|F du Plessis||3||6||0||142||64||23.66||319||44.51||0||2||0||20||2|
|TB de Bruyn||3||5||0||82||30||16.40||175||46.85||0||0||0||15||1|
|TB de Bruyn||3||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||1||0|
|Q de Kock||3||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||2||2|
|F du Plessis||3||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||3||0|