Ind vs SA: Kohli’s double ton, Umesh’s return and other Talking points
India needed just five overs post the Tea session on Sunday to break Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj’s stand, the only partnership that bothered them in the Pune Test. The duo did well to reduce the deficit in the first innings and repeated the effort in the second, but, in the end, it was too much for the tail-enders. The Indian bowlers eventually had the final say.
That spoke volumes about how miserably the South African batsmen have performed in the last two Tests. Once that particular stand broke on Day 4, Virat Kohli’s bowlers knew they were not far from an emphatic victory. It took India exactly seven balls after that to wrap up the Test as the hosts clinched a massive win by an innings and 137 runs and a historic Test series victory over South Africa.
The Test has been all about world records for the skipper and his team. Kohli got the ball rolling on Day 2 by registering his highest Test score of unbeaten 254. That was his seventh double ton as he broke the record for most double tons by an Indian. He also notched up his 19th century as captain, and with that, he is on level with former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.
Apart from leading from the front, Kohli was also in top form as the leader on the field. From his field placements, declaration, to bowling changes, Kohli had a perfect match as skipper. On Sunday morning, Kohli asked his bowlers to bowl for a second consecutive day, as he decided to enforce the follow on. The Indian bowlers were up to the challenge and bowled the opposition out in a little over two sessions.
India’s huge win over the Proteas
Sunday also saw India’s biggest win over South Africa in the longest format. The feat was special because the Proteas had been the ‘Kings’ of away series wins for more than a decade. Since the 2006 whitewash in Sri Lanka, South Africa went on win 10 away Test series out of the 13 they had played. That winning streak finally broke four years ago when they toured India and lost the Test series 3-0.
On the other hand, the day also witnessed Team India pip Australia in another prestigious record. The series win over South Africa was India’s 11th straight win at home and by doing so, Kohli’s men went past record of 10 set twice by the iconic Australian sides between 1994-2001 and 2004-2008. Meanwhile, Kohli, who has been India’s full-time captain only for four years, has already bettered MS Dhoni’s record of 12 series victories by adding a 13th one to his CV in Pune.
South Africa’s batting failure
In the second Test, while India had a century and a double century and they batted only once, the tourists saw just two players going past 50 in both innings. Overall this series, the top three batsmen have been Indians—Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma and Kohli—who have scored 300-plus runs in three innings. South Africa’s best has been their opener, Dean Elgar, who has 216 runs in four innings, including a century.
In fact, the lower-order has batted better than the proper batsmen in the South African line-up. The batsmen coming between Numbers 1-6 have together averaged only 21. 7 and have been dismissed every 44.3 deliveries. However, the ones batting below them have shown greater application averaging 32.4 and they have been dismissed once every 72 balls. The likes of Senuran Muthusamy, Philander and Maharaj, Dane Piedt have put higher prices on their wickets and, they have looked more comfortable at the crease than the top-order bats. With the dead rubber scheduled to start on October 19 in Ranchi, the South African batsmen have a lot of introspection to do.
Umesh Yadav’s return
The Indian bowling line-up led by comeback man Umesh Yadav made South African lives difficult. Even though India was unaware of the Pune track’s nature, Kohli chose to punt with Yadav in the team who had last played a Test for India last year in Perth, instead of an extra spinner in Kuldeep Yadav. The pacer did not disappoint and kept the visiting batsmen under check right from the beginning.
Yadav bagged six wickets and also recorded the best strike-rate (24.8) at home among the pacers since 2018. In the last couple of years, he has improved massively, especially at home. Since the likes of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have all been firing in the longest format, Yadav knew that he had to prove his worth here. Yadav has worked on his line and lengths and has been able to attack the stumps more often with the new ball, leading to his success. Yadav was a late addition to the squad after spearhead Jasprit Bhumrah was ruled out by injury.
Poor spin show from tourists
While Yadav found himself in the limelight in this match, the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja has been a class apart in comparison to their counterparts. Of the 20 South African wickets, 10 went to Ashwin and Jadeja in Pune. They maintained a good economy and put sustained pressure on the opposition.
On the contrary, the South African spinners have been a letdown. After Dane Piedt struck a century with the ball in both the innings for just one wicket in the Vizag Test, he found himself out of the playing XI in the second game. Keshav Maharaj gave away close to 200 runs in the only innings he bowled in Pune and Senuran Muthusamy leaked 97 as both bowlers managed just a wicket each.
Post the thumping victory in Pune, skipper Kohli has made it clear that the hosts are not going to relax and will aim for a 3-0 whitewash in Ranchi. Even though the series is done and dusted, the Proteas has everything to play for as a draw or another loss will see them slide in the Test Championship.