India Beat South Africa In Centurion After Rains, Collapses And More!

 


India beat South Africa by 113 runs just after lunch on the fifth and final day of the first Test in Centurion today, conquering the fortress called Centurion. This grand victory is the first ever to be registered by India at the SuperSport Park in Centurion and in fact, Virat Kohli becomes the first Asian captain to do so. The Proteas, set a target of 305 runs to win, started badly yesterday losing four early wickets for 94 runs; but thanks to captain Dean Elgar (77) they managed to reach 182/7 at lunch today with Temba Bavuma (35 not out) and Marco Jansen (13) at the crease, the last pair with some batsmanship abilities. However, immediately after lunch Mohammed Shami devoured Jansen, his third victim in this innings, thus taking his match tally to 8 wickets after his definitive fifer in the SA first innings which completed his 200 scalps in test cricket. The last two wickets of Rabada and Ngidi were taken by the lone India spinner R Ashwin, as the hosts were all out for 191 runs, even less than their first innings total of 197. A fiery Bumrah is the other bowler to take 3 wickets while Mohammed Siraj took two.

 

This has been one of the most tense and eventful test matches in world cricket. India won a crucial toss to opt to bat and on the very first day KL Rahul started an equally crucial 117-run opening partnership with Mayank Agarwal, staying unbeaten till the end of the day with 122 runs. India, at 272/3, were eagerly looking to resuming the next day aiming to build up a total over 400 runs. As luck would have it, rains started in the morning of the second day and the frequent spells led to a complete washout of the second day, a heavy setback for India early on and raring to go.

 

As normally happens after rains or weather interruptions the first collapse of the match happened with the visitors losing all their 7 wickets for just 51 runs in about 16 overs thanks to brilliant spells of fast bowling by Lungi Ngidi who took 6 wickets, India finishing 327 all out, seemingly a good total, but immensely attainable by South Africa on their favorite home track. The Indian foursome pacers, however, had other plans. They engineered the second collapse of the match as Bumrah cleaned up SA captain Elgar in the very first over. Combined with Shami and Siraj they reduced the hosts to a tottering 32/4. Thanks to a partnership between vice-captain Bavuma (52 not out) and wicket-keeper Quinton de-Kock (34), and a late charge by the tailenders the visitors managed to reach 197 runs, giving India a lead of 130 runs which could have been more, but yet was crucial on a deteriorating track. India lost Agarwal early as they were 16/1 at stumps on that fateful third day when 18 wickets fell.

 

India played steady and defending till lunch on the fourth day taking the score to 79/3, possibly getting into a shell to not allow the SA pacers to ignite another collapse. And collapse it turned out to be eventually, the third of the match; but for an entirely different reason. There was a weather forecast for rains on the decisive fifth day, and India having already suffered from a rain washout wanted to ensure they didn’t lose because of rains. Captain Kohli took a calculated risk by going all-out for runs, and wickets started falling in heaps as everyone tried to hit the ball hard for boundaries. They did score a quickfire 95 in just 18 overs with 34 by Rishabh Pant in 34 balls before getting bowled out for just 174 runs; but most importantly, they set a very challenging 305-run victory target for the hosts which, of course, could’ve been 350. Besides, as per the stats no team had ever successfully chased a target of more than 251 runs at this SuperSport Park, Centurion.

 

The signs of the fourth collapse of the match were visible immediately in South Africa’s chase as India gave them almost three hours and a full day to achieve the target or draw the match if the rain gods came to their help on the last day. The hosts ended up the day pitifully at 94/4 with captain Elgar not out with a half century. Shami struck in his first over clean bowling Aiden Markram for 1 in his first over. Then Bumrah and Siraj partook themselves fully in the demolition job that resulted in a momentous victory today to help their team go up in the Series with a 1-0 lead, after the glorious away-series victories over Australia and England which makes the year 2021 a historic one for Indian cricket.

 


Virat Kohli is very emphatic in praising his bowlers who he said are always capable of bowling out any team on any surface, particularly Shami who can bowl effectively at home or away due to his seam-position and line and length. He also applauded the great determined effort of the player-of-the-match KL Rahul, the only centurion in Centurion, that set up the game favorably for India. He added that Centurion has been a great challenge for decades and after this magnificent achievement his team is looking forward to the second Test beginning at the Wanderers, another challenging track, in Johannesburg from the 3rd of January 2022.

 


For South Africa there have been only two half centuries in the two innings, by Bavuma in the first and by Elgar in the second. Captain Elgar admitted the lack of application shown by their batsmen in both innings. Their famous pace-battery too failed to show their mark in the first day which turned out to be definitive for them in spite of the rain interference. The Proteas would be all tails up for the most important encounter coming up in Johannesburg to stay alive in the 3-match series.

 

On the other hand, India would like to seal the Series in the second test banking upon the gritty performance of the team. But a few concerns do remain: Cheteshwar Pujara, despite a let off by Rabada that looked to be a protocol catch, failed to advance beyond 20 after a duck in the first innings and he is really now on the brink of losing his position; captain Kohli too is not being able to be amid runs as per his standards and he has been without a century for two years now; and the India middle order still looks a bit brittle with an unpredictable Rishabh Pant and other deemed all-rounders. Nevertheless, the present team, with or without minor changes, looks immensely capable of repeating its feat at the Wanderers and win the Series and the last frontier.

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