NEW DELHI: India overcame gritty resistance from South Africa’s batsmen to win the fourth and final Test by a massive 337 runs in New Delhi yesterday and seal the series 3-0.
India had to work hard for victory after the world number one side resorted to hours of stubborn defensive batting, scoring at barely a run an over, in the hope of salvaging a draw.
But their plans were dashed by the equally determined Indian bowlers led by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, whose 5-61 in the second innings saw him finish the series with a total of 31 wickets.
Paceman Umesh Yadav chipped in with three wickets as South Africa were bowled out for 143 soon after tea, after being set a massive target of 481. “All wins are special but this one more so because we had to work harder for it,” said Indian captain Virat Kohli. “The South African batsmen put their heads down and were playing for a draw.
“We were surprised with how they were defending (but) our bowlers did not lose patience. They can be really proud of their effort today.” India went into the final Test with a 2-0 lead, having already won the the first and third matches. The rain-hit second game ended in a draw. India declared on 267-5 after making 334 in their first outing, thanks to man of the match Ajinkya Rahane who hit centuries in each innings. South Africa had folded for 121 in their first knock.
The Proteas fought bravely in the first two sessions Monday but their innings unravelled soon after tea, as they lost their last five wickets inside 5.1 overs. The win helped India climb two places to second in the world Test rankings.
AB de Villiers (43 off 297 balls) and skipper Hashim Amla (25) stonewalled the attack during their marathon innings but some of the other batsmen caved in without making much effort.
“You got to do what is best for the team,” said Amla. “It is easy to go out there and get some runs but we tried to take it as deep as possible and get something out from this game.
“Unfortunately we were outplayed by India throughout the whole series: they batted and bowled better than us.”
The series defeat was South Africa’s first in nine years away from home. De Villiers, who holds the record for the fastest half-century and century in one-day cricket, anchored one end and showed remarkable resolve on a slow track that offered occasional bounce.
The batsman appeared undeterred despite taking three painful blows on his thumb against Yadav.
De Villiers was finally removed by Ashwin who had him caught at leg slip. Ravindra Jadeja (2-26) trapped Faf du Plessis (10) leg before wicket in the post-lunch session but not before he had played out 97 balls. Amla and de Villiers had begun the day with the same dogged resolution that they showed on Sunday.
Their ultra-defensive batting clearly frustrated Kohli, who even brought himself on to bowl one over.
But it was Jadeja who gave his team the key breakthrough with the new ball. The left-arm spinner made the ball drift into the right-handed Amla. He tried to defend but the ball sneaked past to hit the top of his off-stump. Amla’s nearly five-hour stay at the wicket yielded just 25 runs off 244 balls, the slowest scoring rate in Tests by a batsman who has played 200 balls or more.
The 27-run stand that Amla shared with de Villiers off 253 balls was the lowest among all Test partnerships involving 200 or more balls. – AFP