India triumphed in style over the dwindling South African batting order, after bundling the visitors on 191 in the second session of the fifth day of the first Test at Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam on Sunday. The Virat Kohli-led team won by 203 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the ongoing series.
Starting the day on 11/1, chasing a massive target of 395, with Aiden Markram and Theunis de Bruyn at the crease on the start of the final day, South Africa were soon reduced to 70/8 in the morning session. After Ravichandran Ashwin became the joint-fastest bowler to notch 350 Test wickets in just 66 matches, Mohammed Shami showed his credentials with the ball bowling out three South African batsmen — namely Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, and Quinton de Kock.
Markram and du Plessis had formed a 32-run partnership from 20/3 in just the third over of the day, but it was dismantled by Shami’s ferocious in-seamer which uprooted the stumps of the South Africa captain to make it 52/4. Their wicketkeeper was the next to go, whose dismissal saw South Africa slump to 60/5.
Building on their momentum, India soon made things go from bad to worse for Sri Lanka through Ravindra Jadeja’s magical maiden over, where he bagged three wickets. His spin confused Markram first, and then Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj in two consecutive balls. South Africa were down to 70/8 in just 27 overs.
But before lunch, two South Africa spinners offered some quality resistance to the experienced Indian bowling attack, who all looked hungry for wickets. At the break, Senuran Muthusamy (18) and Dane Piedt (32) were at the crease with South Africa still needing 278 runs with two wickets remaining.
The ninth-wicket resilience went deep in the second session with the tailenders forming a valiant 91-run partnership, which was broken by yet another in-seamer by Mohammed Shami as he sent Dane Piedt back to the pavilion on 56. Shami completed his fifer (5/35) soon after, dismissing the last man Kagiso Rabada when he was caught behind by Wriddhiman Saha, and won India the match.
Senuran Muthusamy remained unbeaten on 49 on the other side of the crease at the end of the match. Interestingly, Muthusamy finished the Test with an average of infinity as even after facing 214 balls and scoring 82 runs, he was not once dismissed in the match.
On Saturday, India had set the humongous target of 395, after riding on opener Rohit Sharma’s blistering 127 from 149 balls. Guided by the 32-year-old maiden Test opener’s second century of the match, India reached 323/4 in their second innings through some hard-hitting by the likes of Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, and Ajinkya Rahane.
Towards the end of the fourth day, South Africa had lost first innings centurion, Dean Elgar to Ravichandran Ashwin’s delivery.
Earlier in the first innings, the Proteas were bowled out for 431 owing to Ravichandran Ashwin’s 7/145, where Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock scored centuries, in reply to India’s gigantic 502/7 declared. Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma‘s record-breaking 317-run opening partnership had laid the foundation for such a score, where the former scored an impressive 217. Rohit, playing his first Test as an opener, was dismissed after a brilliant 176-run knock.
The second Test match will commence from October 10 at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune, while the third and the final one will start from October 19 at JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi.
Earlier, the T20I series was drawn 1-1, with the first match washed out at Dharamsala. India won the second outing by seven wickets, while South Africa won the third, thanks to an inspired performance by Quinton de Kock.
India: 502/7 declared; 323/4 declared (R Sharma 127, C Pujara 81, R Jadeja 40; K Maharaj 2/129)