Indian bowlers led by Ravichandran Ashwin showed outstanding perseverance to end South Africa’s dogged resistance and register a comprehensive 337 run victory on Monday in the final cricket Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium winning the four-match series by a historic 3-0 margin.
Needing a mammoth 481 to win, South Africa depended on their ultra-defensive strategy before being bowled out for 143 in 143.1 overs, the last five wickets falling for a mere 7 runs in a dramatic collapse.
From 136 for five at tea, South Africa lost two wickets immediately after resumption and that included their skipper AB De Villiers. Off-spinner Ravichandran 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.
Credit should also be given to Umesh Yadav (3/9 in 21 overs) for starting the slide in the final session by rattling Dane Vilas and Kyle Abbott’s stumps. Wriddhiman Saha took a stunner to dismiss Dane Piedt.
Fittingly Ashwin (5/61 in 49.1 overs) got the final wicket with an angular delivery that Morne Morkel left and was bowled, triggering scenes of celebration in the Indian dressing room and among the players on the ground.
Skipper Virat Kohli and Man of the Match Ajinkya Rahane picked the souvenir stumps as players engaged in hearty celebrations and also thanked the spectators who gave them a standing ovation.
The emphatic Test series victory more than made up for the losses in the ODIs and Twenty20s played earlier.
The visions of victory were raised in the post-lunch session with Faf Du Plessis’ (10, 97 balls) resistance ending when Ravindra Jadeja bowled an armer which the right-hander intended to play for the turn. It hit plumb in-front much to the delight of Jadeja.
With this series win, India has now climbed to spots to No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings. India had lost their No. 1 ranking in England four years ago. South Africa remains No. 1 in spite of this massive series loss.
(With inputs from the PTI)