Mohali Test: India register emphatic win

The South African capitulation gave a new and flattering dimension to Test cricket in India. Mediocrity assumed a cover of excellence as Virat Kohli’s ambitious bunch, aided by some novice-like batsmanship by South Africa, registered a 108-run victory to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

India celebrate the wicket of Faf du Plessis.   -  AP

South Africa became a static spectator against India’s spin bowling driven by basics of line and length.

The South African capitulation gave a new and flattering dimension to Test cricket in India here on Saturday. Mediocrity assumed a cover of excellence as Virat Kohli’s ambitious bunch, aided by some novice-like batsmanship by South Africa, registered a 108-run victory to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Daljit, the hero

It was the first of 12 Tests in Mohali to finish inside three days but ironically without any thrills of the longer version of the game. Man-of-the-Match Ravindra Jadeja claimed five wickets and therein lays the story of South Africa’s abysmal surrender.

R. Ashwin, wily and growing as a match-winner, accounted for three wickets and Amit Mishra one, as the slow bowlers completed the win in 18.5 overs after tea.

The Indian support staff, unsurprisingly, made it a point to walk in unison to thank curator Daljit Singh. He was their Man-of-the-Match.

Eighteen wickets fell on the third day of the match. Going by the number of appeals made the contest should have been over much earlier. This was not good advertisement for Test cricket regardless of the state of the pitch.

The fear in the mind of the South African batsmen showed their technique against the slow ball in poor light and cast an element of doubt regarding their claim as the best team in the world.

Amla flummoxed

The ball hitting the middle stump, when not playing a shot, was Hashim Amla’s moment of mortification on an afternoon that must have caused deep agony to the South African dressing room. The dismissals were bizarre even when India was in the process of setting a target after resuming at 125 for two with batsmen getting squared up by the South African spinners. So it was not just South Africa alone, who lacked the skill and tenacity to survive on a fast-deteriorating surface.

Shoddy display

The Indians were no better, but South Africa were worse when confronted by slow and sustained spin.

The Indian batsmen, finding ways to gift their wickets, caved in to the pair of off-spinner Simon Harmer and leggie Imran Tahir. Their absence of footwork and application was as glaring as that of the South African batsmen.

Awesome threesome

The first-innings lead was meagre for India, but the ultimate target was more than sufficient. Amla and his men were clueless against Jadeja, Ashwin and Mishra, the dismissal of AB de Villiers underlining the panic that gripped his team. He fell to Mishra for the second time in the match, unable to separate the spinning delivery from a flipper.

South Africa’s response to the target of 218 was meek. With India launching the attack with their spinners, the South Africans came up with a move to promote Vernon Philander. It was a move that bordered on desperation than conviction and helped the Indian camp size up the situation well.

Victory had been sniffed this morning itself when South African spinners played havoc with the opponents, who failed to read the bowlers. If the South Africans spinners could extract bite the Indians were not to be found wanting at all.

Lot to ponder for the Proteas

South Africa, aided by the ranking system and fixtures on venues that suited their style, may be the best team in the world. However, they cannot be called a complete team since they woefully lacked the skills to survive on a pitch that was crumbling and was tailor-made to assist the home bowlers.

Batsman on either side demonstrated a sense of insecurity that exposed their mental frailty, a complete lack of application to adapt to such a pitch. The ball did not spin viciously nor did it rise abruptly. Yet, the batsmen danced to the tune of the bowlers, who had the final say in this eminently lopsided Test match.



  Dugout videos