Visakhapatnam: Beating India in a home Test is perhaps the toughest ask for any side in contemporary cricket. Despite scoring 431 in their first innings in reply to India’s 502 for 7, the Proteas eventually fell short by a significant margin of 203 runs in the inaugural Test of the Freedom Trophy and handed over the hosts their third consecutive Test triumph by 200 or more runs.
Coming into this coastal town, South Africa knew what they were up against in this series–a trial by spin on turning pitches. However, by skipper Faf du Plessis’s own admission, the pitch at the Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium was not as dry (read threatening) as some of the surfaces they encountered back in 2015. Furthermore, prior to the start of the game, the local meteorological department predicted chances of scattered rain on all five days of the Test match. Hence, on a pitch with a bit of moisture, the versatile South African attack was expected to test the mighty Indian batting line-up.
But the story of the match days turned out to be different. Apart from a passing shower on Day 1, the rain clouds mostly stayed away from Visakhapatnam and the pitch ended up being a slow turner, much like what we had experienced during the inaugural Test at this venue against England back in 2016.