MOHAMMED SHAMI produced a brilliant spell of reverse swing bowling to strike the mortal blows that earned India victory by 203 runs with more than a session to spare in the opening Test match of the Freedom Series against the Standard Bank Proteas at Visakhapatnam on Sunday.
He dismissed Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock – the latter two in the space of three balls – who were all bowled.
With Ravi Ashwin getting rid of Theunis de Bruyn and Ravindra Jadeja then taking a brilliant one-handed return catch to dismiss Aiden Markram, the writing was on the wall at 70/6 in the 27th over.
Markam’s 39 off 74 balls (5 fours and 1 six) provided the only resistance of note in the top order although there was resistance lower down from Senuran Muthusamy who was left stranded one run short of a maiden half-century (49 not out, 108 balls, 5 fours) and Dane Piedt who did reach a half-century (56 off 107 balls, 9 fours and a six) during a ninth wicket partnership of 91, a South African record partnership against India.
There was further resistance from Muthusamy and Kagiso Rabada who added 30 runs with the last two wickets appropriately being taken by Shami who finished with 5/35 in one ball short of 11 overs.
He was backed up by Jadeja (4/87 in 25).
Rohit Sharma was an obvious choice as man of the match for his centuries in each innings.
When they review the match the Proteas main concern will be with the bowling rather than the batting. South Africa has not often made 400 runs in their first innings on the sub-continent, particularly after losing the toss, and there are much stronger batting line-ups than this one that have got bowled out cheaply in the fourth innings.
What is disappointing is that they let India get away from them in the second innings after restricting them to a manageable lead of 71 runs. The Proteas only got 11 wickets in the match with India having the luxury of declaring twice.
The important thing is that the team has gone forward in terms of handling Indian conditions and they will have to continue to be quick learners.
Notable performances were obviously the centuries scored by Dean Elgar and De Kock and the debut batting form down the order by Muthusamy who made over 80 runs for once out. Markram also looks as though he is coming to terms with sub-continent conditions.
The second Test match starts at Pune on Thursday.