India thump Proteas to win Test series
India duly wrapped up the second Test and with it the series, half an hour after tea on the fourth day, as South Africa’s batsmen capitulated in the second innings in Pune on Sunday.
India won by an innings and 137 runs, as the Proteas were bowled out for 189 in the second innings to win the series with one match to spare. As good as the Indians were throughout the match, it was also a terrible display from the Proteas on a pitch to which their players should have been suited. Unlike 2015, when a desperate Indian team demanded spinning tracks, in Pune the pitch had lots of pace and bounce and was more reminiscent of a surface one would expect on the Highveld.
South Africa’s bowlers missed two windows of opportunity - the first on the opening morning on Thursday, when besides the pace and bounce, there was also plenty of movement off the seam - and again with the second new ball on the second morning on Friday, to make in-roads into the Indian batting order.
They didn’t and first Mayank Argarwal and then Virat Kohl and Ravi Jadejai put the tourists to the sword as they racked up 601/5 declared. India’s vice-captain, Ajinkye Rahane somewhat cheekily claimed that it wasn’t a 600-run pitch, and having allowed India 100 runs more than they’d anticipated in their first innings, South Africa were left physically, mentally and spiritually, broken.
Faf du Plessis, said his players were exhausted after two days in the field, and that was reflected in the loss of three wickets in the last hour of play on the second evening. It was an uphill struggle from there and South Africa were never able to make that ascent.
The Proteas’ top order failed in both innings; they were 53/5 in the first innings and then 79/5 in the second after being asked to follow-on by Kohli.
The batsmen lacked discipline, failing to bat through the most difficult period - the first 40 overs - and the top order’s short-comings were shown up by Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj sharing a 109-run partnership for the ninth wicket in the first innings and then the same pair added 56 runs for the eighth wicket in the second.
On commentary for Indian television, former South Africa captain, Graeme Smith hinted at problems behind the scenes for skipper Du Plessis, but overall also at a number of issues facing cricket in general in the country. “It just feels like there is huge insecurity in South African cricket at the moment," said Smith.
Having the positions of Director of Cricket and Team Director - both new positions in the South African team structure - only filled on a temporary basis at the moment, means no proper long-term planning can occur.
Credit needs to go to India. They were very disciplined and showed great skills throughout the match. Their catching in South Africa’s second innings was probably the best it’s been in many years. Kohli’s 254 not out further underlined his status as the world’s best batsman, while Argarwal, they have a very good opener.
Their seamers have outbowled South Africa’s even in the absence of their best fast bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, and their spinners, Ravichandaran Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja have been dominant.
The third Test starts in Ranchi next Saturday.