Lungi Ngidi ripped through the India lineup on day five as South Africa romped to a 135-run victory as well as an emphatic 2-0 series win.
The Proteas have made a stirring statement with their recent performances and results as they played aggressive yet intelligent cricket at Newlands and Centurion. The decision to back five bowlers in both matches, and a healthy blend of youth and experience, proved to be inspired.
Ultimately, the Proteas have recorded two convincing wins – and more significantly, a series victory – against the No 1-ranked side in the world. After smashing Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the early days of Ottis Gibson’s tenure, the side has proven itself by slaying the biggest Test beast of the lot.
India disappointed in this match and indeed across the series although Virat Kohli did produce a knock for the ages in the first innings at Centurion, scoring 153 to keep his side in the contest.
Ravi Ashwin (4-113 in the first innings) and Mohammed Shami (4-49 in the second) ensured that the Proteas didn’t have everything their own way, but the overall quality of the India batting was poor as the totals and results suggest.
Kagiso Rabada and Ngidi ripped through the India top-order late on day four, with the debutant claiming the key wicket of Kohli and the hosts didn’t want for hunger and intensity early on day five either, taking three quick wickets and thus destroying India’s slim hopes.
The bowlers were brilliantly supported by the fielders. Fifteen minutes into the session, Ngidi chased hard to prevent a boundary and then flicked the ball back to AB de Villiers which led to Quinton de Kock scooping up the ensuing throw to leave Cheteshwar Pujara short of his ground.
Parthiv Patel was caught by Morne Morkel after attempting to hook Rabada for a boundary, and the big man made good ground down at fine leg to complete a stunning grab.
Ngidi accounted for Hardik Pandya and then Ashwin with De Kock taking both catches, leaping high and wide to his right to dismiss the spinner.
Rohit Sharma took the fight to the Proteas bowlers during the latter stages of the session, as he and Mohammed Shami put on 54 runs for the eighth wicket. Rabada though dismissed India’s last specialist batsman on the stroke of lunch as De Villiers raced off the fine leg fence to take a great diving catch.
Ngidi’s big moment arrived when Shami attempted to slog a length ball over mid-on, only for the ball to travel straight to Morkel for a comfortable catch. The 21-year-old patted the Proteas badge on his chest as a way of celebrating the rare feat of a five-for on debut.
Fittingly, it was Ngidi who ended the resistance as Jasprit Bumrah pushed forward and Vernon Philander did well to get to the dying ball at mid-off.
Thus ended an unforgettable match for the youngster, and for South Africa.
SA 335 (1st innings) – Aiden Markram 94, Hashim Amla 82, Ravi Ashwin 4-113, Ishant Sharma 3-46
India 307 (1st innings) – Virat Kohli 153, Murali Vijay 46, Morne Morkel 4-60, Vernon Philander 1-46
SA 258 (2nd innings) – AB de Villiers 80, Dean Elgar 61, Mohammed Shami 4-49, Jasprit Bumrah 3-70
India 151 (2nd innings) – Rohit Sharma 47, Lungi Ngidi 6-39, Kagiso Rabada 3-47
South Africa won by 135 runs and clinch the series 2-0
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix