India make 'perfect start' to series with victory over South Africa

Published December 30, 2021
India players celebrate after winning the first Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion. — AFP
India players celebrate after winning the first Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion. — AFP
India's captain Virat Kohli, center, celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of South Africa's batsman Lungi Ngidi, far right, during the fifth day of the first Test match between South Africa and India at Centurion Park in Pretoria, South Africa. — AP
India's captain Virat Kohli, center, celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of South Africa's batsman Lungi Ngidi, far right, during the fifth day of the first Test match between South Africa and India at Centurion Park in Pretoria, South Africa. — AP
South African batsman Quinton de Kock plays a shot during the fifth day of the first Test between South Africa and India at Centurion Park in Pretoria, South Africa. — AP
South African batsman Quinton de Kock plays a shot during the fifth day of the first Test between South Africa and India at Centurion Park in Pretoria, South Africa. — AP

India completed a convincing 113-run win on the fifth day of the first Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Thursday to make a "perfect start" to the series.

Resuming on 94 for four in a chase of 305 to win, South Africa were bowled out for 191, losing their last three wickets in the first two overs after lunch.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami took three wickets each. Fellow fast bowler Mohammed Siraj claimed two wickets and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed the last two batsmen off successive deliveries.

The win gave India a 1-0 lead in the three-match World Test Championship series and boosted their chances of winning a series in South Africa for the first time.

"We got off to the perfect start," said Indian captain Virat Kohli. "Getting a result in four days (the second day was lost to rain) shows how well we played this Test match and how motivated and keen we were to start off in the manner we did."

There was early resistance from South African captain Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma, with Elgar surviving a caught and bowled chance to Shami when he was on 63.

Bumrah switched to bowling around the wicket and trapped Elgar leg before wicket for 77 when the batter played around a delivery angled into his stumps.

Siraj ended an aggressive innings of 21 by Quinton de Kock when the batter edged an attempted drive into his stumps and Shami had Wiaan Mulder caught behind with a ball which moved just enough off the seam to take the outside edge of the bat.

Marco Jansen was caught behind off Shami in the first over after lunch before Ashwin wrapped up the innings, leaving Bavuma, South Africa's top-scorer in the first innings with 52, stranded on 35.

"You need runs to compete," said Elgar of South Africa's first innings of 197 in reply to India's 327.

"The basics of the game still apply and we didn't do them well from a batting point of view."

vIndia indebted to openers

India were in command from the first day, when KL Rahul's century enabled them to reach 272 for three after winning the toss.

Kohli said playing at Centurion, where South Africa had won 21 out of 26 previous Test matches, was always difficult for visiting teams.

"We had to be absolutely clinical with the bat, the ball and in the field," he said.

Kohli said a key factor was the discipline shown by India's opening batters, Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, who put on 117 for the first wicket on the first day.

"Winning the toss and batting first in tough conditions overseas is always a tough challenge. A lot of credit has to go to Mayank and KL who set up this Test match for us."

The entire second day was lost to rain and conditions proved more difficult for batters when play resumed on the third day, with fast bowlers of both sides exploiting indentations on the pitch which caused variable bounce.

Shami took five for 44 in the first innings to give India a crucial lead of 130 runs. He finished with match figures of eight for 107.

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