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Team India break South Africa’s resistance to win the Freedom Trophy 3-0

The victorious Indian team celebrate a landmark series victory. (Photo Courtesy: BCCI)
The victorious Indian team celebrate a landmark series victory. (Photo Courtesy: BCCI)

The Indian bowlers sustained the pressure relentlessly by sending down one maiden after another. When it seemed like South Africa would hang on grimly, Virat Kohli’s troops showed their fortitude to prevail by 337 runs and take home the Freedom Trophy with a 3-0 series victory.

The famous victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla also meant that India jumped ahead of Australia and Pakistan in the ICC Test rankings to emerge as the new number 2. South Africa’s lead at the top the table was reduced to just 4 rating points.

The day began with Hashim Amla receiving a nasty blow from Umesh Yadav who was bowling at full tilt. Clearly, the Delhi pitch had enough abrasiveness to cloud the judgement of batsmen on the final day. Amla’s gutsy vigil at the crease ended when Ravindra Jadeja pierced his defence with a sharp delivery which turned just enough to clip the off-stump.

AB De Villiers was joined by his long-time friend Faf du Plessis in the middle as India were rejuvenated to see the back of the South African skipper. But the toil extended further as both batsmen continued to eat away at the time by defending against the spinners with admirable resolve.

The Pretoria-born du PlessisĀ had played an astounding innings on his debut TestĀ in Adelaide by stone-walling Australia and carried his team to a vital draw. But he could not replicate those heroics as Jadeja trapped him in front with a slider.

The rough created outside a left-hander’s off-stump came to the fore as JP Duminy followed suit when Ashwin exposed his deficiencies against quality spin bowling. South Africa had lost crucial wickets and were reeling at 136/5 as tea was taken.

The hosts began strongly in the post-tea session as Umesh Yadav’s tireless persistence was finally rewarded as Dane Vilas chopped one on to his stumps. Yadav had bowled with heart and pace to reverse-swing the ball viciously. He used the uneven bounce of the surface as he repeatedly hit AB De Villiers on the body.

Grimacing in pain, AB was not willing to throw in the towel yet. He carried on bravely despite suffering several blows. However, his gallant fight was curtailed when he could not negotiate the extra bounce that Ashwin generated from the pitch.

Yadav literally shattered the stumps as Kyle Abbott was startled by the extreme pace and reverse. Wriddhiman Saha completed a stunning take behind the stumps to stamp his authority as one of the best wicket-keepers in the world at the moment.

When Morne Morkel missed a straight ball from Ashwin to bring an end to the visitors’ agony, it summed up the performance of the Proteas. They were not undone by excess spin, but by the accuracy of the Indian spinners.

For his heart-warming performance, Ashwin picked up the ‘Player of the Series’ award while Rahane was adjudged the ‘Player of the Match’. In the post-match interview, the Mumbai batsman showed his solidarity for the people of Chennai. It was quite a fitting way to end the proceedings and India’s victory should offer some respite for the city which has been shook by the deluge.

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