India: 502/7 decl and 323/4 decl, South Africa: 431 and 191
The major fixture of the week happened to be India vs South Africa which is part of the World Test Championships that would end with a finale at Lords in 2021. The visiting South Africans were not at their strongest having lost players to retirement, viz. AB De Villiers, Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir. The first of the three-Test match series started at Visakhapatnam with the Indians putting themselves to bat after winning the toss. The Indian batting made mincemeat of the limited South African attack, led by Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander and piled up a mammoth 502 for 7 declared. The highlight of the innings was a 317-run opening partnership between Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma. Playing only the fifth Test match of his career, Agarwal score his maiden hundred when he scored 215 and helping himself to 23 fours and 6 sixes. On the other hand, Rohit Sharma silenced his critics with a solid 176 that co-incidentally had an identical number of fours and sixes as Agarwal. As is apparent from their statistics, these two openers alone accounted for 401 runs of the 502 that India piled up. Test-level heavyweights – Cheteswar Pujara, skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinka Rahane all went cheaply scoring 6, 20 and 15 respectively.
The South African quickly lost wickets in reply to India’s massive total and were reduced to 63 for 4 in no time. But a fightback was on the cards as opening batsmen Dean Elgar and captain Faf du Plessis took the score to 178 which is when the skipper fell to Ravi Chandran Ashwin for 55. Wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock led a magnificent counter-attacking fightback when he blazed 111 of 163 balls with 16 fours and 2 sixes. Along with Dean Elgar’s majestic 160, De Kock saw the Proteas innings to a relatively respectable at 370 for 7 before it folded up for 431. R Ashwin made a phenomenal comeback to Test cricket after a long hiatus with a haul of 7 for 145. Spin twin Ravindra Jadeja’s 2 wickets in the innings helped him reach the 200-wicket landmark in Test cricket from just 44 outings which is the fastest by any Indian left-armer.
With a lead of 71, India started the 2nd innings in belligerent fashion with Rohit Sharma scoring a century (127) once again and becoming only the fourth Indian to score a hundred in each innings. The hosts mounted a score of 323 for 4 at which point they declared. Useful contributions to the score came from Pujara (81), Jadeja (40) and Kohli with an attacking unbeaten 31 off 25 balls that included three boundaries and a six.
The visitors, set a target of 395 to win on the fifth and final day, started badly. Reduced to 70 for 8 at one stage, it seemed that the South African innings would fold up inside 100. But a dogged 9th wicket stand of 91 between spinners Senuran Muthusamy and Dane Piedt was the only vestige of a fight-back in an innings that eventually ended at 191. Muthusamy, incidentally, remained unbeaten in both the innings with scores of 33 and 49. For India, fast bowler Mohammed Shami was lethal, finishing with figures of 5 for 35. Jadeja accounted for 4 scalps giving away 87 runs.
Rohit Sharma was adjudged Man-of-the-match.
Sri Lanka stun Pakistan in the opening T20 fixture
SL 165/5 (20.0 overs), PAK 101-all out (17.4 overs) – SL win by 64 runs.
In another mid-week clash in Pakistan, the visiting Sri Lankan team outdid the hosts in the first of the three-T20 games at Lahore. Pakistan won the toss and opted to bowl. The Lankan scaled up 165 for 5 from their 20 overs with valuable contributions from Danushka Gunathilaka (57), Avishka Fernando (33) and Avishka Fernando (32). In reply, the normally competent batting side of Pakistan were simply skittled out for a paltry 101 with as many as 2.2 overs of the 20-over quota left. Only skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and Iftikhar Ahmed with 24 and 25 respectively put up some semblance of resistance to the Lankan attack. For the visitors medium-pacers Nuwan Pradeep (3 for 21) and Isuru Udana (3 for 11) did most of the damage.