India thrash South Africa to sweep series

Tuesday 22nd October 2019 15:51 EDT

India wrapped up a 3-0 series whitewash as South Africa were bowled out for 133 in the second innings of the third Test in Ranchi. After India posted a mammoth 497/9 on the scoreboards, thanks to Rohit Sharma's double century and Ajinkya Rahane's ton, South Africa folded for 162 in the first innings and Virat Kohli enforced the follow-on. South Africa were close to suffering the ignominy of being bowled out twice in one day, but survived onslaught from the Indian bowlers by the skin of their teeth. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav have been the stars with the ball for India in this Test match. Debutant Shahbaz Nadeem, who took 2-22 in the first innings, picked up the wickets of Theunis de Bruyn and Lungi Ngidi off consecutive deliveries in his first over of the day to secure the win for India in double quick time on Day 4.

The series clean-sweep means India maintain their perfect record in the World Test Championship with 240 points. India have thoroughly dominated South Africa, with both bat and ball. After South Africa were asked to follow on, they were reduced to 98/7 in the second innings, with Shami picking up three crucial wickets. Later, George Linde (27) started well but failed to convert it into a big score as he was run out by Shahbaz Nadeem. Dane Piedt (23) and de Bruyn (30 not out) also contributed with important runs at the bottom of the order but failed to keep going.

Rohit’s double, Rahane’s ton muzzle SA

Reaching milestones with a six was Virender Sehwag’s forte, and on his birthday, Rohit Sharma emulated him, hitting Lungi Ngidi over the midwicket fence to bring up his maiden double hundred in Test cricket. That six was preceded by a few nervous moments as Rohit Sharma started the post-lunch session on 199. Rohit is now the fourth batsman in the world with double hundreds in both Tests and ODIs - another record he shares with Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Chris Gayle.

But the tension showed. Before lunch, he had almost chopped one on to the stumps off Kagiso Rabada in search of the 200th run. He tried but could not get the single off Ngidi in the first over after lunch. Then he did the best thing to get out of that situation - hit the ball out of the park. When the next ball disappeared in the same direction but landed farther, a triple century against South Africa, again like Sehwag, did not feel like a distant dream. For the South African bowlers, except Rabada, and George Linde to some extent, did not look too threatening. And Rabada it was who finally sent back Rohit, with another bouncer. Rohit took him on but could not clear Ngidi at deep fine leg.

Sunday was not all about Rohit though. It was also about Ajinkya Rahane, who is often thought to be a lesser force in home conditions than abroad. True that his career has blown hot and cold in the last two years, after leading India in Virat Kohli’s absence in Dharamsala. But this innings has to count among his best.

He middled the ball from the very first delivery he faced on Saturday, while the rest of the batsmen were struggling to cope with the movement off the seam. When he came out to bat with Rohit on Sunday, it did not seem to be a new day when one has to start afresh. His first boundary of the morning was a picture perfect cover drive down on one knee, reminiscent of Sachin Tendulkar in his prime. And though he had allowed Rohit Sharma to dominate the spinners on Saturday, Sunday was a different story. He danced down the track to hit Dane Piedt over his head for a boundary and over the covers.

The only mistake Rahane made over two days was to give Piedt the charge once too often and miss the floater completely. But Heinriech Klaasen, who had four victims in this innings, could not gather it to stump him. But that was only after Rahane had completed his first century at home since 2016. By the time he departed, the Proteas were so deflated that Ravindra Jadeja scored a half-century without much difficulty, and Umesh Yadav hit five sixes off just 10 balls off Linde, who bowled tight otherwise and got rewarded with some late wickets.

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