PUNE: India maintained their formidable home record by crushing South Africa by an innings and 137 runs in the second Test in Pune to clinch the three-match series with a game to spare on Sunday.
Made to follow on, South Africa were bundled out for 189 in their second innings in a little over two sessions at the t the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium as the hosts took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
It was the fourth straight win in as many Tests in the World Test Championship for Virat Kohli’s men, who also won 2-0 in West Indies, and India have now won a record 11 consecutive Test series on soil home.
The last time the world’s top-ranked Test side lost a series at home was in 2012-13 when England beat them 2-1.
Replying to India’s mammoth first innings total of 601-5 declared, the touring side were all out for 275 at the close of third day’s play on Saturday and Kohli decided to put them in again.
The fast bowlers responded to their captain’s call with an inspired spell when they swung the new ball prodigiously with South Africa’s batsmen looking completely at sea.
Needing to bat the better part of two days to keep alive any hopes of a draw, the touring side got off to a horror start to their second innings when opener Aiden Markram fell for a pair, his second dismissal without scoring in the Test.
His dismissal was identical to his first innings failure and he fell leg before on the second ball he faced from fast bowler Ishant Sharma.
Markram consulted opening partner Dean Elgar but did not review though replays suggested the ball would have missed the stumps.
A nervy Theunis de Bruyn opened his account with a missed run out chance and then Kohli dropped him at slip but the batsman could not make the most of his reprieves.
India wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha proved why Kohli thinks he is the best glovesman in the world when he flung to his left to hold on to a one-handed catch to send back de Bruyn for eight off Umesh Yadav.
Elgar and South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis, who made five, combined to hold off India’s march with a 49-run stand for the third wicket before the latter was out to Ravichandran Ashwin with Saha juggling the ball before completing the catch.
Ashwin struck again in his next over when Elgar miscued a lofted shot to be caught at mid off for 48.
Temba Bavuma, who made 38, and Quinton de Kock fell to left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja before the South African lower order staged a brief resistance.
Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj, who combined for 109 in the first innings, added 56 for the eighth wicket to delay India’s win before Yadav finally broke the stand when Philander edged one down the leg side to be out for 37.
Yadav and Jadeja took three wickets each for the hosts.
Kohli set up the win in the second match with his unbeaten 254 — a record seventh double-century for the star batsman, but the captain lauded the team effort.
“We are lucky to have the group of players we have in the last three-four years. It’s amazing to see that hunger and passion for all the guys to keep improving,” man-of-the-match Kohli said after the win. “Looking at the larger picture of the Test championship, every game has value so we’re not going to take our foot off the gas in the third Test. No one’s going to relax at any stage, that’s a guarantee.”
Du Plessis, meanwhile, admitted Kohli’s knock and India’s mammoth total made the tourists play catch-up after the hosts elected to bat first.
“The way India batted, especially Virat with 250, it takes a lot of mental toughness. Two days in the field can wear you down,” said du Plessis. “Especially that second evening, the batsmen were a bit weak in the mindset. From then it’s playing catch-up. We were found wanting in this Test match.”
Du Plessis said Kohli’s innings was a lesson for any batsman. “He was too good. The hunger stood out, it was great value for us as batters.”
INDIA (1st Innings) 601-5 declared (V. Kohli 254 not out, M.A. Agarwal 108, ER.A. Jadeja 91, A.M. Rahane 59, C.A. Pujara 58; K. Rabada 3-93).
SOUTH AFRICA (1st Innings) 275 (K.A. Maharaj 72, F. du Plessis 64; R. Ashwin 4-69, U.T. Yadav 3-37).
SOUTH AFRICA (2nd Innings, following-on)
A.K. Markram lbw b I. Sharma 0
D. Elgar c Yadav b Ashwin 48
T.B. de Bruyn c Saha b Yadav 8
F. du Plessis c Saha b Ashwin 5
T. Bavuma c Rahane b Jadeja 38
Q. de Kock b Jadeja 5
S. Muthusamy c R. Sharma b Shami 9
V.D. Philander c Saha b Yadav 37
K.A. Maharaj lbw b Jadeja 22
K. Rabada c R. Sharma b Yadav 4
A. Nortje not out 0
EXTRAS (B-8, LB-3, W-2) 13
TOTAL (all out, 67.2 overs) 189
FALL OF WKTS: 1-0, 2-21, 3-70, 4-71, 5-79, 6-125, 7-129, 8-185, 9-189.
BOWLING: I. Sharma 5-2-17-1; Yadav 8-3-22-3; Mohammed Shami 9-2-34-1 (2w); Ashwin 21-6-45-2; Jadeja 21.2-4-52-3; R.G. Sharma 2-0-4-0; Kohli 1-0-4-0.
RESULT: India won by an innings and 137 runs to lead three-match series 2-0.
UMPIRES: C.B. Gaffaney (New Zealand) and N.J. Llong (England).
TV UMPIRE: R.K. Illingworth (England).
MATCH REFEREE: R.B. Richardson (West Indies).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Virat Kohli.
FIRST TEST: Visakhapatnam, India won by 203 runs.
THIRD TEST: Ranchi, Oct 19-23.
Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2019