India pacer Umesh Yadav amazed by South Africa's defensive batting approach as visitors score 72 in as many overs, chasing 481 at Feroz Shah Kotla on Day Four
New Delhi: In January this year, AB de Villiers smashed a record 31-ball century in a one-day international (ODI) against the West Indies. On Day Four of the fourth Test between India and South Africa, he took 33 balls to get off the mark. That sums up the South African approach here. Set a target of 481 by India, South Africa blocked almost everything, finishing the day on 72-2 off their 72 overs.
"I can tell you (that) this kind of cricket can be very boring," said Umesh Yadav. South Africa's crawl may have eclipsed the Indian start, which was largely memorable. Virat Kohli was dismissed early, missing a century at his home ground by 12 runs. The focus then shifted on Ajinkya Rahane, who started attacking the bowlers. The highlight of his innings was a ramp over third-man which went all the way. In his 80s, he hit two more sixes. Once he got his century, Kohli declared.
South Africa's defence
Dean Elgar was dismissed early as Ravichandran Ashwin induced the edge to first slip. Skipper Hashim Amla's arrival then made South Africa's dour intentions clear. It took him 46 balls to get off the mark. When compared to him, Temba Bavuma (34) played a brisk knock and even managed to hit Ashwin for a six over the leg-side.
South African skipper Hasim Amla defends a delivery on Day Four of the fourth Test against India at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/PTI
Yadav admitted that India were surprised. "The way they are defending is a surprise and they are not even trying to play a shot. Even the deliveries off which they can score are being defended," he said. With this, the task only gets tougher for the bowlers. "When a batsman doesn't take any initiative then even if you bowl a good delivery, he will just block it out," Yadav said.
Eventually, India did manage a breakthrough. Ashwin went through Bavuma's defence after he'd added 44 with Amla in a little under 40 overs. Although de Villiers was welcomed by the crowd, his entry didn't inspire a change. The Amla-de Villiers stand opened its account after 63 balls, that too once Kohli brought on Shikhar Dhawan's part-time off-spin. That Dhawan over was perhaps the most eventful of the innings as there were two boundaries and a scare or two for the visitors.
How long can South Africa maintain this approach? "They have been beaten on occasions — they have given catches. It is difficult to defend and pass the whole day, they have to play shots," Yadav said. In all, 149 runs were scored on Day Four, the third-lowest aggregate in a day in Test cricket in India and the 11th least overall!