CENTURION: India completed a convincing 113-run win on the fifth day of the first Test against South Africa at the 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.”
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.
Meanwhile, Rahul said the victory in Centurion is a nice start for the tourists.
Right-handed Rahul says harsh lessons from past tours have meant the side are better prepared for this series.
“We sat down as a unit and discussed what were the mistakes we have done in the previous series and what it takes to be successful in South Africa. We have come here better prepared this time round.
“What we did brilliantly in this test match was that we stayed in the moment, we took it one session at a time and did not think about the pitch, weather or the result. We will continue to do that,” the batter said.
Rahul rated his century in the match as the best of his seven Test tons.
“It is right up there in terms of the conditions, the wicket and how challenging it was. It took a lot of guts, determination and discipline to get the century and put my team into a winning position,” he added.
INDIA (1st Innings) 327
SOUTH AFRICA (1st Innings) 197 INDIA (2nd Innings) 174 SOUTH AFRICA (2nd Innings, overnight 94-4): A. Markram b Mohammed Shami 1 D. Elgar lbw b Bumrah 77 K. Petersen c Pant b Mohammed Siraj 17 H. van der Dussen b Bumrah 11 K. Maharaj b Bumrah 8 T. Bavuma not out 35 Q. de Kock b Mohammed Siraj 21 W. Mulder c Pant b Mohammed Shami 1 M. Jansen c Pant b Mohammed Shami 13 K. Rabada c Mohammed Shami b Ashwin 0 L. Ngidi c Pujara b Ashwin 0 EXTRAS (LB-2, NB-5) 7 TOTAL (all out, 68 overs) 191 FALL OF WICKETS: 1-1 (Markram), 2-34 (Petersen), 3-74 (Van der Dussen), 4-94 (Maharaj), 5-130 (Elgar), 6-161 (De Kock), 7-164 (Mulder), 8-190 (Jansen), 9-191 (Rabada) BOWLING: Bumrah 19-4-50-3 (2nb); Mohammed Shami 17-3-63-3; Mohammed Siraj 18-5-47-2; Thakur 5-0-11-0 (2nb); Ashwin 9-2-18-2 RESULT: India won by 113 runs. MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: KL Rahul SERIES: India lead the three-match series 1-0. UMPIRES: Marais Erasmus, Adrian Holdstock (both South Africa) TV UMPIRE: Allahuddien Paleker (South Africa) MATCH REFEREE: Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe)
Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2021