Nagpur: For a while on Day Three, there was a glimmer of hope for a South African fightback when Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis battled it out.
However, South Africa were up against overwhelming odds, chasing 310 on a difficult surface, and once the duo was dismissed, it was all too easy for the hosts.
Ravichandran Ashwin (7 for 66) was on song yet again as he helped India clinch victory by 124 runs. This was after he had taken five in the first innings, making it 12 in the match. With this victory, India have won the series and ended South Africa’s nine-year long unbeaten streak overseas.
Tough going for SA
For Amla’s men, this was perhaps the ultimate challenge. They may have felt confident after bowling India out for 215 in the first innings, but they were then shot out for 79 by the Indian spinners. The tourists were always behind after that performance.
They started Day Three needing 278 more to win, with eight wickets in hand. Amla and du Plessis’ patient 72-run stand for the fifth wicket was a saving grace but not enough. Ashwin and Amit Mishra (3 for 51) used the conditions to weave their web.
"The surface was probably the toughest I have had as well, and the cricket itself was really difficult," Amla said. However, Amla stopped short of criticising the pitch. “It’s difficult for me to comment, to be honest with you, especially being on the losing side. So I will have to try and reserve my comments if that’s okay with you,” he said when asked if this wicket was a bad advertisement for Test cricket.
Meanwhile, Kohli and his team can celebrate victory for they have vanquished the No 1 ranked Test side in the world. This has generally been a low-scoring series, with the Mohali Test also ending in three days.
When Kohli was asked if we can expect India to maintain a policy of playing on turning tracks, he said, “It is not a policy; it is the conditions that you get in India.
Otherwise, you will just play Test matches which will get you 500 runs in an innings.” The debate over the pitch has been raging since South Africa got bowled out for 79 on Day Two.
"I don’t know why is there so much hype created around the issue," Kohli said, maintaining his stand from the
Scorecard: Day 3
India (1st innings) 215
SA (1st innings) 79
India (2nd innings) 173
SA (2nd innings) overnight 32-2
D Elgar lbw b Ashwin 18
S van Zyl c R Sharma b Ashwin 5
Imran Tahir lbw b Mishra 8
H Amla c Kohli b Mishra 39
AB de Villiers lbw b Ashwin 9
F du Plessis b Mishra 39
JP Duminy lbw b Ashwin 19
D Vilas c Saha b Ashwin 12
S Harmer not out 8
K Rabada c Kohli b Ashwin 6
M Morkel b Ashwin 4
Extras (b 9, lb 5, nb 4) 18
Total (all out; 89.5 overs) 185
Fall of wickets 1-17, 2-29, 3-40, 4-58, 5-130, 6-135, 7-164, 8-167, 9-177
I Sharma 15-6-20-0
R Ashwin 29.5-7-66-7
R Jadeja 25-12-34-0
A Mishra 20-2-51-3