New Delhi: India raised the series’ highest total of 334 before bowling out South Africa for 121 on a day the hosts enjoyed complete domination and tightened their grip on the fourth and final Test here on Friday.
Ajinkya Rahane scored his maiden Test hundred at home propelling India to 334 from an overnight 231/7, but yet another collapse from South Africa’s batting order – this time on a pitch that showed no signs of breaking up – saw them trail by 213 runs at stumps. India decided not to enforce the follow on.
After India set up a formidable 334, the visitors knew their reply could define the fate of the match. But if Rahane’s knock was an education in how to play with grit and intelligence, South Africa displayed exactly what should not have been done.
From a nervy 38/1 at tea, the visitors folded up for a sorry 121, losing nine wickets in the day’s final session that handed control to India. Ravindra Jadeja (5/30) bowled with guile extracting turn from the Kotla track that kept low, while Umesh Yadav – expensive in his first spell – was much more effective as the match wore on. He had 2/32.
South Africa openers Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma were involved in a 36-run stand – the visitors’ best first-wicket stand in this series – but sadly, it was their only partnership of note on the day.
Hashim Amla (3) and A.B. de Villiers (42) are among the most solid batsmen in world cricket at present, and one expected the visitors to put up a fight to redeem some pride if nothing else. The series had been lost, South Africa were under no pressure, yet nothing seemed to motivate them.
Amla departed trying to hit a turning delivery from Jadeja only to offer a catch to Wriddhiman Saha, while Faf du Plessis followed 12 balls later. The all-rounder’s triple strike had South Africa in deep trouble at 62/4, and they only sank further into the miew with each passing over.
Ishant Sharma bowled a nagging line on his home ground, even though he had only one wicket to show at the end of the day. His first five overs had four maidens, as he finished on 1/28. Ravichandran Ashwin too kept it tight with 2/26.
Earlier, Rahane’s 127 brought about a lot of firsts in this series. But more than the records, it was the match situation and the manner in which he went about constructing his innings that showed why he is growing into India’s most dependable Test cricketer.
Before this, Rahane had excelled in overseas conditions having scored hundreds in Australia, Sri Lanka, England and New Zealand but his poor record at home had raised eyebrows. His fifth hundred was a lesson in soaking up pressure and standing up at a time when the chips are down.
For those interested in statistics, this was the highest individual score of this series and the first three-figure mark from any batsman. It took India to 334 – the best innings aggregate in the series that has not seen teams cross the 250-run mark. The opening session was crucial for India. It was important to see through the first two hours and Rahane and Ashwin notched up runs with ease. Ashwin was solid at the other end, scoring a well-crafted half century. The pair’s 98-run stand in 193 deliveries for the eighth wicket saw the visitors’ shoulders dropping. Kyle Abbott ended with 5/40 in 24.5 overs as India lost their last two wickets in the span of three deliveries.
India (I innings, O/n 231/7): Ajinkya Rahane c de Villiers b Tahir 127, R Ashwin c de Villiers b Abbott 56, Umesh Yadav (not out) 10, Ishant Sharma lbw b Abbott 0
Extras (b8, wd1, nb3) 12
Total (all out in 117.5 overs) 334
FoW: 8-296, 9-334
Bowling: Morkel 24-5-58-0, Abbott 24.5-7-40-5, Piedt 38-6-117-4, Imran Tahir 16-2-66-1, Elgar 11-0-33-0, Duminy 4-0-12-0
South Africa (I innings): Dean Elgar c Saha b Yadav 17, Temba Bavuma b Jadeja 22, Hashim Amla c Saha b Jadeja 3, AB de Villiers c Ishant b Jadeja 42, Faf du Plessis c Rahane b Jadeja 0, JP Duminy b Yadav 1, Dane Vilas b Ishant 11, Kyle Abbott lbw b Ashwin 4, Dane Piedt c Rahane b Jadeja 5, Morne Morkel (not out) 9, Imran Tahir c sub (Rahul) b Ashwin 1
Extras (b5, nb1) 6
Total (all out in 49.3 overs) 121
FoW: 1-36, 2-40, 3-56, 4-62, 5-65, 6-79, 7-84, 8-103, 9-118
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