India Conquer South Africa at Kotla; Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav Help Win Series 3-0
South Africa's top batsmen failed to deny India a victory at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla. Ravichandran Ashwin and Umesh Yadav were at the forefront again on a crumbling Day 5 pitch as India rose to No. 2 in the ICC rankings.
- Updated: December 07, 2015 08:04 PM IST
Ravichandran Ashwin (5/61) and Umesh Yadav (3/9) fully exploited a Day 5 Feroz Shah Kotla wicket on Monday as India beat an ultra-defensive South Africa in the fourth Test in Delhi by a whopping 337 runs. India won the Test series 3-0 following wins at Mohali and Nagpur. The Bangalore match was washed out.(Scorecard | Highlights)
From 136 for five at tea, South Africa lost two wickets immediately after resumption and that included their superman AB De Villiers. Ashwin got the better of the South African 'wall' with a ball that bounced and turned viciously from good length. It took the edge of De Villiers' gloves and landed at Jadeja's hands at leg-slip.
It was a telling blow for South Africa. De Villiers had denied India for 297 balls and batted through with pain only to be undone by the vagaries of a wicket that suddenly came to life in the final session of the match. The Proteas, who had won the ODI and T20 series, thus ended their 72-day tour with a miserable Test defeat.
Pacer Umesh Yadav (3 for 9 runs) came to the party with a flurry of wickets after tea. He bowled Dave Vilas, the last of the recognized Proteas batsmen, for 13 and then castled Kyle Abbott with a fuller ball that reverse swung and broke the leg-stump into two. South Africa lost five wickets in a space of seven runs and plummeted to defeat.
India climb to No. 2 spot in ICC rankings
With this series win, India have now climbed two spots to No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings. India had lost their No. 1 ranking in England four years ago. South Africa remain No. 1 in spite of this massive series loss in India.
Chasing a massive 481 for an improbable victory, South Africa started the fifth day on 72 for two wickets. Left-arm spinner Jadeja finally earned the breakthrough in the fifth over after the hosts had taken the new ball, spinning one past Amla's tentative bat to hit the top of the off-stump before embarking on a celebratory run. But the visitors kept blocking everything to be 94-3 at lunch on the final day.
South Africa continued their 'blockathon' when they started Monday morning. The number of bowlers India skipper Virat Kohli employed rose to eight, including bringing himself on, as he grew desperate to try and separate Amla and AB de Villiers.
Kohli surrounded the batsmen with up to six close-in fielders for his spinners but success eluded the hosts until the 13th over of the day. "All wins are pretty special but this one because we had to work harder for this," said Kohli.
"We were surprised with the way they were defending the ball, but the bowlers didn't go off their plans. It tested our patience but I think it's more special to get wickets in that situation," said Kohli.
At lunch, De Villiers was batting on 26 from 203 balls, one of the slowest innings by a batsman who holds the record for fastest 50, 100 and 150 in one-day cricket. He was hit on the thumb by an Umesh Yadav delivery but batted through pain after getting medical attention.
Faf du Plessis was batting on two at the other end, having taken 53 balls -- seven more than skipper Amla -- to get off the mark and blocking everything hurled at him.
As slow as it can get for Proteas
Amla departed after nearly five hours of resolute defending, scoring 25 painstaking runs from 244 balls in what was the slowest ever Test innings of 200 or more balls. The 27 runs he added with de Villiers in 253 balls was also the slowest Test partnership of 175 balls or more.
The match turned India's way with Jadeja and Ashwin trapping Du Plessis (10) and JP Duminy (0) leg-before in the post-lunch session. With the ball keeping low and the spinners bowling fuller lengths, it was always going to be a close affair between bat and ball.
"It was a tough series for our batters. Unfortunately we didn't manage to get that much runs most of the times," Amla said, after South Africa's first away Test series defeat in nine years.
(With inputs from Reuters)