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South Africa’s golden run comes to an abrupt halt in Delhi

Amla's South Africa was floored by an impressive Indian outfit (Photo Courtesy: ESPN Cricinfo)
Amla’s South Africa was floored by an impressive Indian outfit (Photo Courtesy: ESPN Cricinfo)

The pitch was not a landmine neither was the ball spinning out of control in Delhi. Rather, the psyches of South Africa’s premier batsmen had been wrecked beyond repair. In a shameful performance, the visitors capsized to 121 by playing inexplicable shots and surrendering meekly without a fight.

AB de Villiers was the only batsman who showed any semblance of resolve as the much derided Indian bowling unit showed their prowess on a decent batting wicket by carving out a mammoth lead of 213 runs.

The likes of Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis looked like they were tormented at the sight of the red cherry. Despite showing grit and gumption in the 2nd innings of the previous Test match, both experienced campaigners did not have any clue against the guile of Ravindra Jadeja.

The Saurashtra all-rounder demolished the South African top-order with a tight spell of bowling. He procured his 4th five-wicket haul in Tests by displaying impeccable accuracy. He dismissed Temba Bavuma, Amla and du Plessis in quick succession after Umesh Yadav had broken through with the new-ball.

Yadav regularly clocked 140 kmph and proved his worth by grabbing the wicket of JP Duminy with an astounding delivery. Despite de Villiers’ stubborn resistance, the Indians continued to chip away at the other end and eventually the star batsman too threw in the towel as Ishant Sharma completed a stunning catch at the long-off boundary.

Earlier in the day, Ajinkya Rahane showed his class with an impressive century to ensure that India reached a formidable total of 334. The soft-spoken Mumbaikar’s 127 was the first century in the low-scoring series.

He was ably supported by Ravichandran Ashwin who paid his own tribute to the flood-ravaged Chennai people by delighting the crowd with some exquisite strokes and chipping in with a useful half-century.

The partnership between Rahane and Ashwin was the highest stand for any wicket in the entire series. They were helped by Hashim Amla’s inept captaincy who repeated the same mistake again by refusing to trust leg-spinner Imran Tahir.

Brought into the day’s proceedings after the Indian duo had taken the match away from their grasp, Tahir snaffled Rahane upon his introduction to rub salt into Amla’s wounds. The South African team management have made numerous questionable decisions throughout the Test series which only made their task even more difficult.

The cricket aficionados in the African nation deserve better than to have their national team being continuously impeded by racial undertones. The selections of several coloured cricketers suggests that earning a Test cap for South Africa seems to be directly linked to nepotism and racism.

South Africa arrived in India as the number 1 Test team in the world. Even if they lose the Delhi Test, they will still retain their top position in the rankings. But, do they now deserve the pole position anymore?

After all, the current set of cricketers have undermined the hard work done by past greats such as Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis who competed through sheer will in places such as Australia and England as they brought laurels to their country by winning one away series after another.

It can be safely ascertained that Hashim Amla’s men have been totally exposed by a rampaging Indian team. In the aftermath of the Nagpur Test, Amla maintained that their intention was to play ‘honourably’. However, his poor shot-selection showed otherwise and epitomized the fact that South Africa’s golden era is officially over.

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