Superb seam bowling has allowed India to rip through South Africa’s batting line-up and seal a 63-run consolation victory on day four of the third and final Test at the Wanderers.
Chasing 241 for victory on a wicket with pace, bounce and prodigious lateral movement, South Africa were on top at 1-124 but lost their last nine wickets for just 53 runs as India roared back into the contest.
Opener Dean Elgar (86 not out) and Hashim Amla (52) had given South Africa hope with a 119-run second-wicket stand, but the home side lost their way following the latter’s dismissal 20 minutes before tea.
The wickets were shared between the excellent Mohammed Shami (5-28), Ishant Sharma (2-31), Jasprit Bumrah (2-57) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-39).
South Africa claimed the series 2-1 after victories in Cape Town and Pretoria.
The Test victory will be especially pleasing for India after it was achieved on a treacherous Wanderers wicket.
“We required some character playing on a pitch that was very difficult to play on, but our guys showed great guts and determination through the four days,” India captain Virat Kohli said.
“We took the challenge, we wanted to face it head on. Batting first was something that didn’t go down well with a lot of people, but we knew it would get even more difficult to bat as the game went on.”
The batsmen in particular showed bravery and skill on a surface that at once stage was deemed so dangerous by umpires Ian Gould and Aleem Dar that they suspended play 20 minutes before stumps on day three.
Resuming on 1-17, South Africa played patiently through the rain-shortened morning session, but Amla’s dismissal sparked a swing in momentum.
The key wickets of AB de Villiers (6) and Faf du Plessis (2) followed quickly afterwards, and when the out-of-form Quinton de Kock was trapped lbw first ball the home side’s chances diminished.
At one stage India’s rampant seamers picked up 6-17, with only the lone hand of Elgar able to keep them at bay.
“India outplayed us in this Test, we didn’t take our chances and were sloppy. We weren’t as consistent as in the first two tests,” South African captain du Plessis said.
“It’s very disappointing standing here after a loss, but if you had offered me 2-1 before this series I would have bitten your hand off. India is a fantastic team, but we have played some really good cricket in this series.”