Cape Town, Jan 14:
A South African team going through one of its toughest transition phases embarrassed a star-studded Indian team with a clinical seven-wicket victory in the third Test to clinch a memorable 2-1 series triumph here today.
The target of 212 wasn’t a tough ask and starting the day at 101 for two, young pretender Keegan Petersen (82, 113 balls) along with Rassie van Der Dussen (41 not out) added 54 runs for the third wicket to seal the match before Temba Bavuma (32 not out) helped in putting the final touches.
Petersen walked away with both the player of the match as well as player of the series honours.
Sunil Gavaskar termed it as a “Nightmare for India” as they were not even close to competing in the last two Tests and Dean Elgar’s ear to ear grin and the bear hugs that he shared with his teammates said it all.
It was especially sweet for the hosts who lost premier pacer Anrich Nortje to injury before the series and were then hit by Quinton de Kock’s sudden mid-series retirement.
The Indian team, meanwhile, lost it in their mind after the contentious DRS review of Elgar that went wrong on Thursday and their focus on using stump microphone more to take digs at broadcaster Supersport instead of focussing on getting Petersen out spelt their doom.
“It’s a great spectacle of Tests for everyone to watch; hard-fought series. Great first game but SA did amazingly well. In both Tests they won, they were clinical with the ball in crunch moments,” India skipper Virat Kohli admitted after the game.
With this series defeat, India’s record of never having won a Test series in the Rainbow Nation for three decades, remained intact.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the only India captain to have managed a drawn series back in 2010.
It was one of the strongest Indian teams on paper against one of the weakest South African teams on paper.
However, the operative word here was “on paper” as Elgar’s unheralded bunch showed a lot of character in punching above their weight and also getting heavily rewarded for their relentless efforts.
“The way our bowling unit delivered throughout the series is brilliant. I threw down the challenge after the first game and the guys responded brilliantly,” said an elated Elgar.
The mindless chatter and incessant sledging didn’t bother the likes of Petersen and Van der Dussen as they went about their job in a thoroughly professional manner.
India’s batters were far too dependant on bowlers to bail them out for the past few years but this series showed that this attack is human too even though they put their best foot forward, which wasn’t complemented at all by the willow wielders.
The only hope for India was the first spell from Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami in sultry conditions with the semi-new ball and they did their bit with all sincerity.
Petersen was beaten time and again but, in between, scored his runs to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Their strategy was to see off the first spell and capitalise when Umesh Yadav, who is known to bowl boundary balls, was brought into the attack.
Bumrah, in his second spell, did get one to straighten but Cheteshwar Pujara, enduring a poor series with the bat, dropped a crucial regulation slip catch with the batter on 59.
If one remembers, it was Ross Taylor, who had got a ‘life’ when Pujara dropped a sitter during World Test Championship final and the bowler at the receiving was again, Bumrah.
It was Shardul Thakur who finally had the young man played on but by then Petersen had ensured a series win for his team. (PTI)