What was a closely contested Test series came to a dramatic end as the Proteas ended up chasing 212 with ease in the SA vs IND Third Test at Cape Town. Dean Elgar’s side played better cricket in this final encounter and took the home series 2-1.
It means that India’s wait for a Test series in South Africa needs to continue and this would be looked at as an opportunity wasted. So how did the SA vs IND Third Test at Cape Town pan out? Let’s find out.
KEEGAN PETERSEN IS THE FIND OF THE TOUR
From the very first ball, Keegan Petersen played in this series he looked like he belonged to Test cricket. Batting at number three against the bowling attack of India is no piece of cake but Petersen showed that he is all class and South Africa has found an uncut gem. He looks compact with his defence and at the same time, doesn’t hesitate to put the bad balls away. His game is based on his driving skills and it was on display throughout the third Test. Petersen’s match-winning 72 and 82 won him the Man of the Match award. He was also the highest run-getter in the series and was awarded the Man of the Series award as well for his exploits.
RISHABH PANT IS UNREAL
After a forgetful Test at Johannesburg, Rishabh Pant had a point to prove at Cape Town. The way Pant charged Rabada on just his third ball to whack him out of the ground was immature and Pant knew he was better than that. He was told off by his coach to be more selective about his shot-making and he did exactly that in the following Test.
In the first innings of the third Test, Pant played a crucial knock of 27 but eventually gave it away with another loose shot. In the second innings though, he was out in the middle with an intent to score big. He came into the middle with his team struggling at 58/4. The South African bowlers were on top and Indians were struggling to get even bat on ball. Pant came with a counter-attacking mindset and got going pretty early. He fought hard with his captain, Virat Kohli and put together a 94-run partnership. After Kohli’s wicket, Pant got into fifth gear and brought his fourth Test hundred. By doing so he became the first Asian wicket-keeper to score a Test century on South African soil and he also became the first Asian wicket-keeper to smash three-Test Centuries in SENA countries. Just a reminder, Pant is only 24 and is achieving milestones that seemed impossible for wicket-keeper batters of previous generations.
PROTEAS PACERS GOT MORE FROM THE WICKET YET AGAIN
It was apparent that at Johannesburg in the second Test, the South African pacers extracted a lot more from the surface than the Indian pacers. It was predominantly due to the height advantage the Proteas fast bowlers have over the Indians. Something similar happened at Cape Town as well.
For the first time in Test cricket, all twenty wickets in an innings were caught out and it gives you an impression that the Indian batters struggled to adjust to the bounce from the surface. On the other hand, the Indian pacers are born to attack the stumps. The skiddy nature of the bowlers means that the way the Indian pacers are trying to get wickets is either by LBW or bowled. Given the bounce that was on offer at Cape Town, those two modes of dismissal were out of the game. This was the biggest reason why Indians managed to pick only 13 wickets in this game as compared to the 20 picked up by the South African pacers.
INDIAN BATTING FAILED TO STAND UP
India went into the series with an under-firing middle order. Their in-form opener Rohit Sharma and premier overseas all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja were also ruled out of this series meaning that the burden of run-scoring was on KL Rahul’s shoulders.
Under Kohli, we’ve seen that this team will never take the safer option of playing an extra batter, rather would back their five bowlers to win them games. Till the time the team is winning, this strategy seems bullish but when things go south as they did in South Africa, serious questions get asked about the team combinations. The top-order failed to deliver in the third Test and the middle order too struggled. The pseudo-all-rounders in Shardul Thakur and R Ashwin weren’t convincing with the bat and India would be disappointed with the way they batted in this high-stake match.
After another series where Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane failed to live up to expectations, the selectors would be looking for alternatives in the coming home series against Sri Lanka.
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