Bengaluru, October 22: India ran roughshod over South Africa to blank the visitors 3-0 in the Test series. India was expected to dominate SA in a home series but the level of it was rather unexpected.
In fact, South Africa offered some resistance in the first innings of the opening Test at Visakhapatnam posting a 400-plus total. Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock made hundreds too. Finally, we will have a home series filled with fight. But the expectations were misplaced as Indian batsmen and bowlers subjugated SA mercilessly.
A closer look at how India dominated South Africa.
1. Rohit stars as opener
It was, perhaps, the most-debated, analysed decision in recent cricketing memory. It was made clear that Rohit Sharma will open in all three Test matches against SA and there were doubts over the move despite his success as an opener in white ball cricket. It was something like final chance for Rohit to revive his Test career, the proverbial last roll of the dice. In another sense, he has nothing to lose either. The success would have been a huge bonus for him and the team and a failure would have been treated with some level of expectedness.
Fortunately, for all concerned, Rohit grabbed the chance and scored 529 runs at 132.25 with three hundreds that included his maiden Test double hundred. He blunted SA pacers upfront like a traditional opener and then wrecked their spinners once set. Man of the series in his debut series as Test opener might have been beyond even Rohit's dreams. But that's what happened and hopefully, more success to follow.
2. Batsmen coming to the fore
India did not wait for Kohli or Pujara for big runs, and in fact it was a collective firing. Rohit made three hundreds, including a double ton at Ranchi and twin hundreds at Vizag, Kohli made 254 at Pune and Ajinkya Rahane a hundred at Ranchi and Ravindra Jadeja too was handy down the order. So much runs were scored between those four that India even did not have time to worry about a modest series for Cheteshwar Pujara, who made 145 runs from 4 innings at 36.25 with two fifties.
3. Bowlers ransack SA
Veteran offie R Ashwin began the domination of Indian bowlers with a six-wicket haul at Visakhapatnam and he emerged top wicket-taker of the series with 15 wickets. Jadeja was not far behind him with 13 wickets but it was not all about spin this time. Pacers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav plucked 13 and 11 wickets respectively at envious average of 14.76 and 12.18. They troubled SA batsmen with bouncers even on fourth day wickets. To get a complete picture, India at any stage hardly missed the presence of Jasprit Bumrah, who was ruled out of the series due to an injury.
4. Fielding and catching
Not very often you see a South African side getting outclassed in the fielding and catching departments. In the outfield and in the slip cordon, Indian fielders rarely missed chances and those few went abegging were really sharp ones. But none deserves more plaudits than Wriddhiman Saha, who returned to the side in the place of Rishabh Pant and showed why he is rated one of the best, if not the best stumper, in the world behind the sticks.