Ash­win spins In­dia to se­ries vic­tory

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

NAG­PUR: Ravichan­dran Ash­win claimed 12 wick­ets in the match as In­dia swamped South Africa by 124 runs with two days to spare in the third Test yes­ter­day to clinch the se­ries. The Proteas, who re­sumed at 32-2 chas­ing a tar­get of 310, folded up for 185 in their sec­ond in­nings af­ter tea on the third day on a dusty, de­te­ri­o­rat­ing pitch at the VCA sta­dium in Nag­pur. Off-spin­ner Ash­win fol­lowed his 5-32 in the first in­nings with 7-66 in the sec­ond to take his tally in the se­ries to 24 wick­ets in five in­nings so far. In­dia had won the first Test in Mo­hali by 108 runs, while the sec­ond in Ban­ga­lore was washed out by rain af­ter the open­ing day’s play.

The fourth and fi­nal Test will be played at the Feroze­shah Kotla ground in New Delhi from De­cem­ber 3, with the hosts firm favourites to com­plete a 3-0 score­line. Proteas cap­tain Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis put on the high­est part­ner­ship in the Test of 72 runs, scor­ing 39 apiece, but no other bats­man touched 20. Leg-spin­ner Amit Mishra re­moved both bats­men in the space of six de­liv­er­ies just be­fore tea, end­ing the re­sis­tance by the flat­footed tourists against the turn­ing ball. In­dia have now won eight of their last nine Tests on home soil-all in­side three days-hav­ing routed Aus­tralia 4-0 and the West Indies 2-0 in 2013 be­fore tak­ing the first and third Tests in the cur­rent se­ries.

Proteas 9-year record ends The win­ning se­quence was bro­ken only by the drawn rain-hit Ban­ga­lore Test. The de­feat marked top-ranked South Africa’s first se­ries loss abroad in nine years af­ter the 2-0 set­back in Sri Lanka in 2006. In­dian cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli hailed Ash­win as the best spin­ner in the world and said he was pleased to win the se­ries against the num­ber one side in the world. “Ash­win is a world-class spin­ner, prob­a­bly the best in the world at the mo­ment,” said Kohli. “He is a very im­proved bowler and stepped up for us in a big way in this se­ries.

“It is very pleas­ing to de­feat South Africa, es­pe­cially since they won both the Twenty20 and one-day se­ries ear­lier. We played some very good cricket in all the three Tests.” Kohli said his team was not both­ered by the crit­i­cism over the Nag­pur wicket, adding it was more im­por­tant to per­form well in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions. “It was a chal­leng­ing wicket, but our bats­men showed char­ac­ter to put runs on the board,” he said. “You have to cre­ate chances when you get con­di­tions which are go­ing to be bowler-friendly. “Spin­ners ob­vi­ously had an up­per hand in the se­ries, but seal­ing the se­ries by play­ing well was more im­por­tant for us.”

‘Dif­fi­cult pitch’ Amla ad­mit­ted it was a “dif­fi­cult” wicket to bat on, but said his team had tried its best to ad­just to the con­di­tions. “The pitch was a dif­fi­cult fac­tor, it was turn­ing and bounc­ing whether it was the new ball or the old one,” said Amla. “It was a hard game, but we are ob­vi­ously very dis­ap­pointed. “Whether we win or lose, we have to fight hon­or­ably. We tried to dig deep as long as we could.” Amla and du Plessis, who came to­gether in the morn­ing ses­sion af­ter the fall of the fourth wicket at 58, de­fended for 46.2 overs in the fifth-wicket part­ner­ship.

Amla ne­go­ti­ated 167 de­liv­er­ies and du Plessis faced 152 balls be­fore fall­ing in quick suc­ces­sion to Mishra at the end of the af­ter­noon ses­sion. Amla, whose high­est score in the se­ries is 43, edged a catch to Kohli at gully. In Mishra’s next over, du Plessis played over an at­tempted pull and was bowled. South Africa faced a tough task since a tar­get of over 300 runs had been chased suc­cess­fully just once on In­dian soil-by the home team who made 387-4 to de­feat Eng­land in Chennai in 2008. —AFP

NAG­PUR: In­dia’s Ravichan­dran Ash­win (cen­ter) cel­e­brates with Wriddhiman Saha (left) and Ajinkya Ra­hane af­ter tak­ing the wicket of South Africa’s AB de Villiers yes­ter­day. —AFP

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