Since he was given the “carte blanche” to lead the Indian cricket team, it has been a tremendous run for Virat Kohli, at least until the end of last year.
With demolishing the southern neighbours both on their own demesne as well as on the home soil and defeating almost every other team across different formats, the South Africa series was supposed to be the salvation tour for India’s egregious record outside subcontinent. But respecting the incertitude of this game, Virat Kohli’s brigade got nearly blown away in the first two tests of this match. Even though there were considerable contributions from the Indian fast bowlers (rather unusual as far as history suggests), incorrect team selection and consistent batting failure put the number one team on the verge of a whitewash.
The 22 yards of “Wanderer’s” suggested a hostile nature towards the species with the bat even before the first ball was delivered. On such a track, the Indian skipper took an intrepid (some might call temerarious as well had the match gone the other way) decision of batting first. That incident sort of reminded a memorable test match played back in 2002 at Headingley, Leeds. Although unlike that match, India got wrapped up for a paltry 187 runs in the first innings.
When the play started on day two of this test match, even the biggest proponent of the Indian cricket team probably wouldn’t think of this outcome. Things finally start to go India’s way when the pitch started to behave like a fifth day track on the second day. Bhuvneshwar’s delivery that lacerated AB’s defence might well be the best delivery bowled in the entire series. For some reason, that blow rang a death knell for the Proteas and they followed their usual path of “choking”.
Selecting Rahane instead of Rohit Sharma finally paid off in the third innings when he became the highest contributor with 48 runs on a perilous track. Even a five-year old knows about Rahane’s batting prowess on fast pitches. Had he been entrusted with his job in the first two tests, India could have ended up on the winner’s side at the end of this series. Apart from Rahane’s brilliance and the two gritty knocks from the skipper and Pujara in the first innings, all credit goes to the Indian pace quartet.
Bhuvneshwar had been wonderful for the entire series and so had been Bumrah in his debut test series. The real concern was Md. Shami’s form who was yet to deliver, and he did handsomely when it mattered.
The hosts were chipping away with an impregnable partnership between Amla and Elgar. But the funniest fact with such tracks is that one wicket can literally open a floodgate of wickets if the bowlers continue to hit the right area. The same happened today as the Indian quartet continued their disciplined attack and the pitch did the rest. Shami was lethal with his toe crushers and so were the other two spearheads.
If we start to summarise the entire series, we would find a considerable number of positive entities as this might establish a long cherished pace attack India have been searching for decades. At the same time, this series gave Kohli the taste of reality unlike the “spinner’s heaven” back in his home. If this match is a sign of how the Indian think tank is going to manoeuvre their resources in the forthcoming tours of England and Australia, this Indian team could achieve such feats that their ancestors never did.
India 187 (Kohli 54, Pujara 50, Rabada 3-39) and 247 (Rahane 48, Kohli 41, Bhuvneshwar 33) beat South Africa 194 (Amla 61, Philander 35, Bumrah 5-54, Bhuvneshwar 3-44) and 177 (Elgar 86*, Amla 52, Shami 5-28) by 63 runs
Photo by schmich