India celebrate their historic win at the SuperSport Arena in Centurion.
India got off to a perfect start in their tour of South Africa as they thrashed the hosts by 113 runs in the first Test in Centurion today to take a 1-0 series lead.
It was also the first time South Africa lost at the venue since 2014.
India scored 327 in their first innings after winning the toss and opting to bat. Rahul led the way with his gritty 123. Mayank Agarwal (60) and Ajinkya Rahane (48) provided good support, but the lower order fell without offering much resistance.
However, India’s bowlers enjoyed the pace and bounce on offer as Mohammed Shami took five wickets en route to bowling the hosts out for 197. Shami also reached 200 Test wickets with his fifth of the innings.
India’s could only post 171 in their second innings, as they looked to score quick runs after the second day had been called off due to rain. Rishabh Pant top-scored with his run-a-ball 34.
But South Africa could not defy India’s bowlers and the match was wrapped up by the second over after Lunch on Day 5 to hand India the lead in the series. Here are three key takeaways from India’s win over South Africa in the first Test.
#1 Not just second innings Shami anymore
Mohammed Shami shone with a 5-wicket haul in South Africa’s first innings.
Mohammed Shami has a reputation for being at his most dangerous in India’s second innings with the ball—the third or fourth innings of the match.
However, in the Centurion Test, he was on the money right from South Africa’s first innings as he took a brilliant five-wicket haul. Shami finished with figures of 5/44 from 16 overs, bowling five maidens in the process.
In South Africa’s second innings, Shami started off where he left off, giving India the first breakthrough in the form of Aiden Markram.
He later returned to help clean up the tail, dispatching Wiaan Mulder and Marco Jansen and finishing with three wickets. In this match, Shami showed that he is a threat throughout the match and not only in India’s second innings with the ball.
#2 The Jasprit Bumrah factor
Jasprit Bumrah has been a match-winner for India in Tests and limited overs cricket alike.
Jasprit Bumrah, with every passing series, is proving to be more and more an irreplaceable asset for India in overseas Tests. Time and again, he has conjured moments of pure brilliance to give India the breakthrough they need to turn draws into wins.
There was the slower ball yorker to Shaun Marsh in the 2018 Boxing Day Test and then the off-cutter to Ollie Robinson at Lord’s earlier this year.
On Day 4 at Centurion, Bumrah came up with yet another piece of magic.
After Aiden Markram and Keegan Petersen lost their wickets early in South Africa’s chase of 305, Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen dug in and frustrated the bowlers. The two batted for over 20 overs and nearly took South Africa to the end of day’s play without any further damage.
But then, Bumrah happened.
The 28-year-old bowled an away-swinger to van der Dussen and then got one to jag in sharply from outside off to hit his off-stump. Van der Dussen had shouldered arms and was completely deceived by Bumrah’s mastery.
Four overs later, Bumrah got nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj with one of his classic yorkers. The pacer has become one of India’s most reliable players when the going gets tough and opposition teams will do well to prepare even more carefully for him.
#3 The middle order conundrum
Virat Kohli completed two calendar years without a century.
Amid the historic win, India’s frail middle order was still in the spotlight after once again failing to deliver.
Ajinkya Rahane’s 48 in the first innings was the best score between him, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara in the match. Kohli too played a decent knock of 35 in the first innings, but the pressure is building on the three veterans to make a big score.
In Centurion, as they did in England, India were reliant on a century from one of their openers, but they cannot only rely on the top order to come up with the goods.
India have Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer in the squad and both have been knocking on the door for a place in the team. If India’s three experienced middle order batters don’t start contributing with more runs soon, one or more of them may soon see themselves out of the playing XI.