India ripped through the Proteas batting order late on day four to claim a 63-run victory at the Wanderers.
The Proteas should be disappointed with their batting performance during the closing stages of day four as the host were well placed at 124-1 shortly before tea. From there, they should have been favourites to chase down the target of 241 set by India and complete a stunning comeback victory.
Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla showed remarkable determination and application to bat the hosts back into the contest on a pitch offering plenty of assistance to the bowlers. The pair put on 119 runs for the second wicket before Amla picked out Hardik Pandya on the on-side.
The Proteas lost their last nine wickets for 53 runs. India were on fire during the latter stages of the day, with Mohammed Shami, Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar all troubling the batsmen with a series of full deliveries.
That said, the temperament of the South African batsmen after tea – bar Elgar, who was courage personified over the course of his 240-ball vigil – left a lot to be desired.
The series finishes 2-1 in the Proteas’ favour. South Africa deserved to win the matches in Cape Town and Centurion. India showed more intensity and determination over the course of the third fixture in Johannesburg, though, with the bat, the ball, and in the field.
Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane did well to combat the Proteas fast bowlers in difficult conditions on day three. The game was nearly called off after Elgar took a blow to the head during the evening session.
The umpires and match referee appeared concerned about the state of the pitch, and ultimately the safety of the players. But after consulting with the captains, the decision was taken to see the game out to its conclusion.
The Proteas did well to fight back across the first two sessions on day four. Elgar and Amla copped the odd delivery in the ribs or on the hand. Conditions weren’t as volatile on day four as they were on day three, though. The India bowlers were also guilty of bowling too short during that period.
The visitors struck a timely blow before tea. Sharma broke the partnership between Elgar and Amla. Bumrah removed the dangerous AB de Villiers on the stroke of tea.
Kohli’s celebration after De Villiers’ dismissal said it all. India felt that they were back in charge.
Sharma picked up another key wicket when he bowled out Faf du Plessis after the break. Bumrah trapped Quinton de Kock lbw thereafter meaning that for the second time in this Test, the trio of De Villiers, Du Plessis, and De Kock had failed.
Shami ripped through the tail to finish with figures of 5-28. It was a team effort by the India bowlers, though, as in the period before and after tea, the visitors looked to bowl a lot fuller and enjoyed a lot more success as a result.
Few would have bet on the Proteas to win this game at the start of day four. The India bowlers were well on top on day three, and a target of 241 appeared a big ask for the hosts in difficult conditions.
However, South Africa should be disappointed after batting so well over the first two sessions and then collapsing in the worst possible fashion thereafter.
India 187 (1st innings) – Virat Kohli 54, Cheteshwar Pujara 50, Kagiso Rabada 3-39, Andile Phehlukwayo 2-25
SA 194 (1st innings) – Hashim Amla 61, Vernon Philander 35, Jasprit Bumrah 5-54, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3-44
India 247 (2nd innings) – Ajinkya Rahane 48, Virat Kohli 41, Kagiso Rabada 3-69, Morne Morkel 2-47
SA 177 (2nd innings) – Dean Elgar 86 not out, Hashim Amla 52, Mohammed Shami 5-28, Ishant Sharma 2-31
India won by 63 runs; South Africa won the series 2-1
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix