Ashwin spins India to series victory
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