A marathon match-saving effort from Hashim Amla (25 from 244 balls) and AB de Villiers (43 from 297 balls) went in vain as R Ashwin and co. managed to bowl the Proteas out for 143 on the final day of the 4th Test between India and South Africa on Monday. India won the match by 337 runs and completed a 3-0 series win. Most importantly, they ended South Africa’s 15-series long unbeaten away streak and also moved to 2nd position in the ICC Test Rankings.
Chasing a near-impossible target of 481 for victory, the South African batsmen had decided to block everything that came their way and their commendable resistance lasted for a whopping 143.1 overs. The match was heading towards a draw until the Tea break on day 5 but R Ashwin and Umesh Yadav turned the tide in favour of India in the space of just 27 balls. Ashwin (49.1-26-61-5) walked away with another 5-wicket haul, taking his series tally to 31 and Yadav supported him throughout with figures of 21-16-9-3. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was brilliant with the ball too as he registered figures of 46-33-26-2.
R Ashwin gets Elgar early, Amla and Bavuma stand strong:
India declared at 267/5 in their second innings and put the visitors to bat about an hour before the lunch break. R Ashwin was right on the money as he got rid of Dean Elgar (4) in the 4th over. A mistimed drive ended up in an outside edge and Ajinkya Rahane completed the catch at first slip. Temba Bavuma (34 from 117) and Hashim Amla then combined for more than 38 overs and solidly defended the spinners with soft hands. Ashwin struck once again, this time a flighted delivery outside off stump drifted into the right-hander and then straightened to go on and hit the off stump.
In came AB de Villiers, the most successful South African batsman of the tour. He defended every ball with soft hands and waited for the ball till the last moment unlike Amla, who was getting to the pitch of the ball. Both the batsmen batted till the end of Day 4 with the scoreboard reading 72/2 in 72 overs.
De Villiers stranded on Day 5 as wickets fall at the other end:
Early on Day 5, Ravindra Jadeja managed to get through Amla’s defense and take the off stump in order to send the South African skipper back. His innings of 25 from 244 balls lasted for 289 minutes and will remain as an example of grit and persistence. Faf du Plessis was in at no. 5 and the right-hander gave de Villiers company for two hours with a solid defense. He scored 10 off 97 balls and was trapped LBW by Jadeja, thus ending a dismal run in this Test series with a valiant defensive effort. JP Duminy followed his teammate soon with a 12-ball duck, leaving the scoreboard at a precarious 112/5. With 6 fielders surrounding de Villiers, India continued to attack relentlessly but the South African Mr. 360 showed the cricketing world why he is billed as one of the greatest of his time.
AB de Villiers and wicketkeeper Dane Vilas led their team into the Tea break and then had to negotiate around 30 overs to save the match. However, Virat Kohli had other plans as he brought Umesh Yadav back into the attack. The Nagpur pacer bowled consistently at 140-145 Km/h and got some help from the pitch as well. He got rid of Vilas with an off-cutter and then broke the leg stump in two pieces to dismiss Kyle Abbott. De Villiers’ defense was finally breached when he reluctantly played on a sharply spinning and bouncing off-break from R Ashwin. The ball hit the batsman’s glove and Jadeja caught it at leg-slip, thus ending AB’s 354-minute long battle.
Yadav picked up his third wicket as he produced an outside edge off Dane Piedt and Wriddhiman Saha, the Indian keeper grabbed the ball with a brilliant one-hand effort, diving to his right. The last man to be dismissed was Morne Morkel who was bowled over by a straighter R Ashwin delivery. India won the match by 337 runs, their biggest victory margin in terms of runs. Ajinkya Rahane collected the man of the match award for his twin-centuries which set the match up brilliantly for India and R Ashwin was adjudged the man of the series for his 31 wickets in 7 innings. Ashwin has bagged 62 wickets this year and will be the first Indian cricketer since Anil Kumble (74 wickets in 2004) to finish as the highest wicket-taker in Tests in a calendar year if no-one goes past his mark.
India 334 (Rahane 127, Abbott 5-40) and 267/5 declared (Rahane 100*, Morkel 3-51) beat South Africa 121 (de Villiers 42, Jadeja 5-30) and 143 (de Villiers 43, R Ashwin 5-61) by 337 runs. India win the 4-match Test series 3-0 (1 draw).