India: 497 for 9 decl./ South Africa: 162 & 133. India win by an innings and 202 runs.
India’s made their dominance over South Africa consummate when they registered their second successive innings win over the visiting Proteas at Ranchi and wrapped up the series 3-0. For the South Africans, it was the same old story of not being able to bowl out the Indian side for the fourth time in the series thus allowing the hosts to pile up a score of 497 for 9 at which point they declared. Rohit Sharma was the star of the innings as usual scoring 212, his third hundred-plus score in the series. His mammoth innings was peppered with 28 fours and 6 sixes and came off just 255 balls. The Indian vice-captain piled up an aggregate of 529 from the four innings he played in the series at a staggering average of 132.25 per innings which is the highest any batsman from either side has achieved on both counts. The other batsmen to contribute to India’s impressive total was Ajinkya Rahane with 115 and Ravindra Jadeja with a swashbuckling 51. At one point of the match, it looked like the Proteas had the upper hand when India had just 39 on the board with key front-line batsmen Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli back in the pavilion. But a record 265-run 4th wicket stand between Rohit Sharma and Rahane undid all the good work South African pacer Kagiso Rabada had done on the first morning. 27-year old George Linde, making his debut for South Africa, had a commendable outing. The slow left-arm spinner turned up with satisfactory figures of 4 for 133 which isn’t bad considering the kind of belting the Indian batsmen handed out.
The South African innings started disastrously with both openers Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock getting bowled neck and crop for 0 and 4 to Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav respectively. In an innings that eventually folded up for 162, only 8 batsmen crossed double figures. Zubayr Hamza, playing only his 2nd Test scored a face-saving 62 while debutant Linde showed that he could bat, too, when he scored 37 (that included 3 fours and a six). Middle-order bat Temba Bavuma (32) was the third one to cross the double-figure mark in the innings. Shami (2-22), Yadav (3-40), Jadeja (2-19) and debutant left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (2-22) were the chief wreckers of the South African innings.
Facing a deficit of 335 and made to follow-on, the visitors made heavy weather of their second innings. De Kock was bowled for 5, this time by Umesh Yadav while Shami scalped Zubayr Hamza, skipper Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma in quick succession for scores of 0,4 and 0 to send the Proteas reeling at 22 for 4. Wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals until the innings folded up for 133, their lowest in the series. Ironically it was the No.6, 7 and 8 batsmen – Linde, Dane Piedt and Theunis de Bruyn with scores of 27, 23 and 30 that put forth whatever little resistance the visitors had to offer. For the Indians, Shami finished brilliantly with figures of 3 for 10 while Jadeja (2-35) and Nadeem (2-18) were both again among the wickets.
With 240 points in 5 Tests, India are miles ahead of any other team in the ongoing two-year long ICC World Test Championship. New Zealand and Sri Lanka with 60 points each are ranked at number 2 and 3 respectively. The next visitors to India will be Bangladesh, but it may not be a cakewalk for the hosts as many would expect. The Tigers have improved dramatically over the years and unlike the South Africans will be much more acclimatized to the conditions here.