Dominant best: On India-South Africa Test series

India needed a mere 12 deliveries on the fourth and penultimate day of the third Test to register another overwhelming victory over South Africa. The last two wickets were claimed without fuss and it was done with a swagger intrinsic to champion squads. As the dust settled at Ranchi’s JSCA International Stadium on Tuesday morning, Virat Kohli’s men were not finished yet. They were busy sprinting, swapping hugs, doing high-fives and scrambling to get stumps as souvenirs. Their ecstasy was understandable considering that India had sealed the three-match series at 3-0, a clean sweep against an opposition bereft of ideas. As starters go, the previous Twenty20 prelude hardly offered any clues as the rivals split it at 1-1 but once the Tests coursed through Visakhapatnam and Pune before concluding at Ranchi, India was at its dominant best, etching massive triumphs. The first Test was won by 203 runs and the subsequent two yielded innings victories. To add to South Africa’s ignominy, India enforced the follow-on both at Pune and Ranchi, and the host’s incisive bowlers kept hoodwinking Faf du Plessis and his troops. The series reiterated India’s incredible record at home. The last time a touring side defeated India in a Test series goes way back to 2012 when England prevailed at 2-1.

Since then India has claimed 11 Test series in its backyard, a period in which 26 games were won while a solitary loss against Australia remains the lone blemish. India has also excelled overseas as evident from the 2-1 verdict in Australia during the 2018-19 series. Home-advantage, muscular batting and miserly spinners, may be the regular template but Kohli’s India has the added fangs of fiery pace. It is no surprise that Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav grabbed 24 wickets between them while the spin duo of R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had a combined tally of 28. If ever there was a complete bowling effort from an Indian unit, this was it. Promoting Rohit Sharma as a Test opener, a role he does with aplomb in limited overs cricket, proved to be a master stroke. Like Virender Sehwag, who graduated from the middle-order and felt at ease atop the batting tree, Rohit too did the same. The Mumbaikar’s 529 runs and the fine tandem he shared with fellow opener Mayank Agarwal enhanced India’s lustre. Kohli was in supreme form and Ajinkya Rahane’s welcome return to runs was an added bonus. All these were vital components in a splendid tapestry which also witnessed India leading the table in the ICC World Test Championship with 240 points. And with Bangladesh being the next opponent, India should continue to soar.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 12:11:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/dominant-best-on-india-south-africa-test-series/article29771422.ece

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