In the end, it was a session too far for South Africa as India won the fourth Test by 337 runs to take the series 3-0 in Delhi on Monday.
It was all over 26 minutes after tea as Dane Vilas (13), AB de Villiers (43) and Kyle Abbott (0) lost their wickets in three consecutive overs. It was the killer blow India needed, but credit must go to the Proteas for the way they scrapped and fought in this innings.
It was the type of resolve you expect from the No 1 Test team in the world and they will forever wonder how the series could have gone if they had applied this sort of mental application earlier.
South Africa lasted 143.1 overs for their 143 runs, thanks largely to Hashim Amla (25 off 244 balls) and AB de Villiers (43 off 297). Amla batted 12 minutes short of five hours and De Villiers occupied the crease for six minutes short of six hours.
Ravi Ashwin (5-61) finished with yet another five-for – his fourth of the series – and together with Umesh Yadav (3-9) they took the final five wickets after tea for a well-deserved victory.
The 3-0 series sweep takes India to No 2 on the ICC’s Test rankings, only four points behind South Africa.
De Villiers and Vilas had done well to survive until tea, but India’s bowlers were too good on a deteriorating day five pitch. Vilas played the ball on to his stumps, De Villiers was caught at leg slip after the ball brushed his gloves and Abbott was clean bowled by a swinging delivery.
Faf du Plessis (10 off 97) had earlier battled valiantly with De Villiers as they shared a 35-run partnership off 211 balls. De Villiers and Amla’s 27-run partnership came off 253 deliveries.
Du Plessis was trapped lbw by Ravindra Jadeja midway through the session, which brought out JP Duminy to bat with De Villiers.
He didn’t last long, though, as Ravi Ashwin trapped him lbw for a duck. He faced 12 balls. India’s tails were up, but Vilas has done well to survive until tea.
Amla’s innings was ended by Jadeja 12 overs into the day when he bowled the captain with a delivery that missed the outside edge and clipped off-stump.
Du Plessis took 53 deliveries to get off the mark which is a record for a South African batsman.