The Proteas suffered a heavy 203-run defeat before tea on day five of the first Test against India at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.
Resuming on 11-0 overnight, the tourists capitulated to 191 all out – still 204 runs shy of a challenging target or approximately three hours short of salvaging a draw.
Their score would have read substantially worse, had lower-order duo Senuran Muthusamy and Dane Piedt not shared a steely 91-run partnership for the ninth wicket. Piedt and Muthusamy welcomed Test best totals, with 56 and 49 not out, respectively.
Opener Aiden Markram pledged more through a solid 39, but was eventually dismissed by a superb one-handed return catch from spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
Captain Faf du Plessis shouldered arms to a delivery that jagged off the seam, crashing into the stumps. Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, too, was bowled by seamer Mohammed Shami’s penchant for cutting the ball into the right- and left-handers.
All-rounder Vernon Philander, who collected a second duck this match, and tailender Keshav Maharaj were dismissed lbw by Jadeja on a pitch relatively rife with turn. Number three batsman Theunis de Bruyn and vice-captain Temba Bavuma had been bowled by spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and Shami, respectively.
Ashwin joined Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan in becoming the quickest to reach 350 Test wickets. The Indian, like the Sri Lankan, required just 66 Tests for the milestone.
Having amassed 502 runs in the first innings, the Indians again relished a significant contribution from batsman Rohit Sharma en route to 323/4 declared in the second on Saturday. The newfound opener, who hit 176 across day one and two, gathered a successive ton.
The visitors’ first innings had ended on 431 all out, thanks largely to opener Dean Elgar and De Kock – South Africa’s first Test centurions in India since 2010.
Visakhapatnam, too, witnessed the most sixes in a Test – 36 were struck. Sharma hit 13 to Elgar and De Kock’s collective half-dozen.
Sunday’s win afforded India an early lead in the three-match series. The second Test will start in Pune on Thursday. Ranchi will host the third Test later this month.
India: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Senuran Muthusamy, Keshav Maharaj, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada.
Photo: Gallo Images