New Delhi (Reuters) – South Africa’s spectacular stonewalling came unstuck in the final session as India cruised to a 337-run victory in the final test to win the four-match series 3-0 at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium yesterday.
Beaten inside three days on either side of the rain-ruined second test in Bangalore, Hashim Amla and his men had finally managed to take a test into its final day with some dogged resilience.
Resuming on 72-2, South Africa employed the same ultra-defensive approach that marked their batting on Sunday, hoping to eke out a pride-salvaging draw than chase an improbable 481-run victory target.
Amla (23) led their dour reply with his 244-ball resistance and AB de Villiers (43) battled for about six hours, much of it with a swollen thumb, before the slow-scoring tourists folded for 143 in 143.1 overs.
Their single-minded blocking also allowed India’s left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja to send down 17 consecutive maiden overs.
Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 5-61 to finish with 31 wickets which also earned the off-spinner the man-of-the-series award. “All wins are pretty special but this one because we had to work harder for this,” captain Virat Kohli said after India rose to number two in test rankings with the series victory.
“We were surprised with the way they were defending the ball, but the bowlers didn’t go off their plans.
“It tested our patience but I think it’s more special to get wickets in that situation,” said Kohli.
The Indian captain employed as many as eight bowlers, including himself, to overcome the Proteas’ resistance and populated the crease with up to six close-in fielders for his spinners.
Jadeja earned the breakthrough in the fifth over after the hosts had taken the new ball, spinning one past Amla’s tentative bat to hit the top of the off-stump before embarking on a celebratory run.
Amla departed after nearly five hours of dour defending, scoring 25 painstaking runs in what was the slowest ever test inning of 200 or more balls.
The 27 runs he added with de Villiers in 253 balls was also the slowest test partnership of 175 balls or more.
New man in Faf du Plessis displayed the same obduracy with the bat and took 53 balls — seven more than skipper Amla – to get off the mark.
India 1st innings 334 (A. Rahane 127, R. Ashwin 56; K. Abbott 5-40, D. Piedt 4-117)
South Africa 1st innings 121 (R. Jadeja 5-30) India
2nd innings 267 for 5 decl (A. Rahane 100no, V. Kohli 88)
South Africa 2nd innings (Overnight: 72-2; Target: 481 runs)
D. Elgar c Rahane b Ashwin 4
T. Bavuma b Ashwin 34
H. Amla b Jadeja 25
A. de Villiers c Jadeja b Ashwin 43
F. du Plessis lbw b Jadeja 10
J. Duminy lbw b Ashwin 0
D. Vilas b U. Yadav 13
K. Abbott b U. Yadav 0
D. Piedt c Saha b U. Yadav 1
M. Morkel b Ashwin 2
I. Tahir not out 0
Extras (b-8 lb-3) 11
Total (all out, 143.1 overs) 143
Fall of wickets: 1-5 D. Elgar, 2-49 T. Bavuma, 3-76 H. Amla, 4-111 F. du Plessis, 5-112 J. Duminy, 6-136 D. Vilas, 7-136 A. de Villiers, 8-140 K. Abbott, 9-143 D. Piedt, 10-143 M. Morkel
I. Sharma 20 – 12 – 23 – 0
R. Ashwin 49.1 – 26 – 61 – 5
R. Jadeja 46 – 33 – 26 – 2
U. Yadav 21 – 16 – 9 – 3
S. Dhawan 3 – 1 – 9 – 0
M. Vijay 2 – 0 – 2 – 0
V. Kohli 1 – 1 – 0 – 0
C. Pujara 1 – 0 – 2 – 0
Result: India won by 337 runs