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India end South Africa’s 9-year away record with emphatic victory

Photo courtesy: BCCI
R Ashwin spun a web around the Protea batsmen to create history in Nagpur. (Photo Courtesy: BCCI)

One of the greatest streaks in the history of Test cricket came to a grinding halt as India demolished South Africa by 124 runs to clinch the series with a Test still left to play. The Indian spinners continued to torment the Proteas, who, before this, had gone 15 away tours over 9 years without a series loss.

On Day 3, the vicious surface, which had so far evoked dubious reactions from cricket connoisseurs around the world, surprised onlookers by slowing down considerably. And South African skipper Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis were able to stitch together the longest partnership in the match – the pair stuck together for more than 30 overs to thwarted Virat Kohli’s men.

Showing admirable resolve and summoning every ounce of their concentration, the duo proved that the pitch was not as bad as it was assumed to be and scoring runs was still possible. However, an inspired spell by Amit Mishra in which he removed both batsmen in quick succession proved to be decisive to the outcome of the match.

All of this happened after Ashwin had gotten India off to the perfect start yet again by snaring Dean Elgar with an impeccable opening over. When AB De Villiers walked into bat, he immediately began to counterattack the spinners in a bid to throw them of their lengths. But Ashwin’s carrom ball deceived him completely and trapped him in front of his stumps.

At 58/4, it looked like the match would finish before Lunch. However, what followed was a classical display of Test match batting as Amla and du Plessis frustrated the home team with their gritty partnership. They offered a glimmer of hope for the visitors even as the disciplined Indian bowlers continued to build the pressure by showing impressive control.

Eventually, Amit Mishra broke through just before Tea, tossing the ball up generously and piercing Amla’s concentration. His loopy delivery found the edge and was gleefully accepted by Kohli. Faf du Plessis followed his captain to the dressing room after he was confounded by a slider which kept low and crashed on to the stumps.

After the Tea interval, the writing was on the wall. Though JP Duminy tried hard, he was dismissed by Ashwin who was employing the hard new ball to great effect. The lower-order batsmen did not have any answer to the Ashwin’s guile, helping the offie to yet another 10-wicket match haul, as the South Africans were finally bowled out for 185, handing India a 124-run victory, which also secured the Freedom Trophy 2-0.

The final Test begins on December 3 in Delhi.

India 215 (Vijay 40, Harmer 4-78, Morkel 3-35) and 173 (Dhawan 39, Tahir 5-38) beat South Africa 79 (Ashwin 5-32, Jadeja 4-33) and 185 (Ashwin 7-66, Mishra 3-51) by 124 runs.

Man of the Match: R Ashwin

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