India spins out top-ranked South Africa


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Ravichandran Ashwin congratulated by Virat Kohli

By Kersi Meher-Homji


What a start for the Gandhi-Mandela Trophy! Yesterday on a turning tract India defeated South Africa by 108 runs in the first Test at Mohali with more than two days to spare.

There were many heroes but the two Ravis ”“ spinners Jadeja and Ashwin ”“ stole the show in this engrossing and fluctuating battle.

When India was dismissed for 201 runs in the first innings it appeared that the no. 1 ranked South Africa (SA) will vanquish the home side which is ranked no. 4.

However, this turned out to be the highest total in the match dominated by spinners from both sides; slow left-arm orthodox Dean Elgar and leg-break googly bowler Imran Tahir from SA and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, slow left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and leg-spinner Amit Mishra from India.

To India’s 201 (opening batsman Murali Vijay 75) SA replied with 184 to trail by 17 runs. Apart from a gritty 63 by AB de Villiers other batsmen fell to Ashwin’s off-breaks as he grabbed 5 for 51.

The spinning track did not seem to worry the Indian batsmen Vijay (47), Cheteshwar Pujara (77) and skipper Virat Kohli (29) in the second innings and they were at one stage cruising at 2 for 61.

Just then off-spinner Simon Harmer (4 for 61) and leg-spinner Tahir (4 for 48) struck crippling blows and India lost 8 for 39 to be dismissed for 200. Now the match came alive.

SA needed 218 to win in two and half days and it was anyone’s game as SA has world-class batsmen Hashim Amla, de Villiers and Faf du Plessis.

Surprisingly Amla sent in tail-ender Vernon Philander to open their batting. He lasted only two balls in scoring a single and the collapse started.

At one stage the visitors were 6 down for 60 runs as master batsmen Amla and de Villiers were bowled without offering a shot. They expected big turns but the balls went straight knocking their stumps down.

Left-arm spinner Jadeja turned the ball menacingly and SA was shot out for 109 and lost by 108 runs. For his 38 runs in the first innings and taking 3 for 55 and 5 for 21 he was adjudged Man of the Match.

India leads the four Test series 1-0. Hope India prepares better pitch in subsequent Tests which gives batsmen and fast bowlers equal opportunities to excel. In Mohali it was spin, spin and more spin.

The second Test starts in Bangalore on 14 November.

What a contrast between two Test matches played simultaneously in Brisbane (between Australia and New Zealand) and in Mohali!

In the first three days in Brisbane, 1137 runs have been plundered for the loss of only 18 wickets. This works out at 63.17 runs per batsman. Five centuries were hit including two by Australian opener David Warner and one each by Australians Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns and New Zealander Kane Williamson.

In three days in Mohali, only 694 runs were scored for the loss of 40 wickets. That is 17.35 runs per batsman. No century here, Pujara top-scoring with 77.



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