CAPE TOWN: Keegan Petersen scored a superb 82 as South Africa completed a seven-wicket victory in the third Test and a 2-1 series win over world number one India on an unforgiving Newlands pitch having chased down their challenging target of 212 on Friday.
It is just the fourth time in 133 years that a team has scored more than 200 in Cape Town to win, and follows on from South Africa’s epic seven-wicket victory in Johannesburg in the second Test when they needed 240 in the fourth innings.
Petersen, who was the leading scorer in the series with 276 runs, was the anchor for the home side, but there were also important unbeaten contributions from Rassie van der Dussen (41) and Temba Bavuma (32) as they put on 57 for the fourth wicket.
It denied India their first Test series win in South Africa and was an unexpected result considering the strength of the Indian team under captain Virat Kohli, and the relative inexperience of the South African side.
“That people expect us to beat South Africa in South Africa is testimony to how far we’ve come,” said Kohli. “I’m not going to say we won in Australia and we won in England. You have to turn up for every series and we haven’t done that in South Africa, that’s the reality. Accept it and come back as better cricketers. You’ve got to credit the opposition where its due.
“It was a very hard-fought series, but I think South Africa did amazingly well to fight back in the second Test and then capitalise on the same momentum in the third. I think in both Tests they won they were much more clinical with the ball in the crunch moments, and to be honest there was a bit of a lapse of concentration from us as well, which cost us.
“The batting definitely has to be looked at - there is no running away from that. That is something we will have to analyse and correct moving forward.”
South Africa, who were underdogs for the series despite home advantage with their inexperienced side, had started the day on 101-2 and had plenty of alarms on the difficult pitch against the high-quality Indian seamers, who might have had more reward with better luck.
India were left hugely frustrated by the technology used for dismissal referrals and might have talked themselves into some trouble with their deliberate on-field comments into the stump microphones.
Petersen, who was named player of the match and player of the series, shared a partnership of 54 with van der Dussen. When Petersen fell by cutting a ball onto his own stumps to leave South Africa 155-3, India had a glimpse of victory but van der Dussen and Bavuma shut the tourists out.
Bavuma won it with a four through square leg and then pumped his fists and let out a roar. The South African players in the dressing room celebrated exuberantly after their biggest win under the leadership of captain Dean Elgar, who was appointed last year, and coach Mark Boucher.
Elgar believes the win is an important step forward for his side, who have lost a host of experienced players to retirement in recent years.
“I’m pretty elated. I couldn’t be prouder of the group of players,” he said. “We were thrown under the sword quite a few times in this series and the guys responded brilliantly.
“The way our bowling unit came in and operated through the last two games has been brilliant. To take 60 wickets in a Test series is a tough challenge. We have a young, talented group. The experience isn’t there, but we are gaining it and getting better every day.”
India have now had eight attempts to win a Test series in South Africa dating back to when the Proteas were readmitted into international cricket in 1992. South Africa have won seven of the contests in South Africa, with one drawn series.
The teams will now play three One-Day Internationals starting in Paarl on Wednesday.
INDIA (1st innings) 223
SOUTH AFRICA (1st innings) 210
INDIA (2nd innings) 198
SOUTH AFRICA (2nd innings; overnight 101-2):
A. Markram c K.L. Rahul b M. Shami 16
D. Elgar c R. Pant b J. Bumrah 30
K. Petersen b S. Thakur 82
H. van der Dussen not out 41
T. Bavuma not out 32
EXTRAS (LB-8, NB-3) 11
TOTAL(for three wkts, 63.3 overs) 212
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-23 (Markram), 2-101 (Elgar), 3-155 (Petersen).
BOWLING: Bumrah 17-5-54-1, Shami 15-3-41-1, U. Yadav 9-0-36-0 (2nb), Thakur 11-3-22-1, R. Ashwin 11.3-1-51-0 (1nb).
RESULT: South Africa won by seven wickets.
SERIES: South Africa won 2-1.
UMPIRES: Marais Erasmus, Adrian Holdstock (both South Africa).
TV UMPIRE: Allahuddien Paleker (South Africa).
MATCH REFEREE: Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe).
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022