Indian bowlers took charge of paving the hosts towards victory as they ran through South African batting in the morning session on day five of the first Test in Visakhapatnam on Sunday (October 6).
Chasing an improbable 395-run target, South Africa were expected to put up a fight like they did in the first innings but Mohammad Shami’s three-wicket burst and Ravindra Jadeja’s probing spell has made it all but certain that India will reach finishing line much faster than what was expected before the start of play.
The visitors resumed the day at 11 for one in nine overs, were 117 for 8 at lunch with Senuran Muthusamy (19 not out off 47) and Dane Piedt (32 not out off 56) delaying the inevitable.
The morning session was extended by 15 minutes for India to complete the formalities but Piedt and Muthusamy frustrated them.
The pitch, which had played fairly for the first four days with the oddball surprising the batsman, turned tricky on day five. The spinners got the ball to turn sharply and the variable bounce also helped the pacers, as predicted by Cheteshwar Pujara on Saturday.
The collapse began in the second over of the day when Ravichandran Ashwin castled Theunis de Bruyn (10) with one that turned back sharply from wide outside of the off-stump for his record-equalling 350th wicket.
With that dismissal, the 33-year-old became the joint-fastest to 350 wickets, matching Sri Lanka legend Muttiah Muralitharan’s feat in his 66th Test.
After Ashwin provided the early breakthrough, Shami castled Temba Bavuma (0), Faf du Plessis (13) and first-innings centurion Quinton de Kock (0) in two short bursts to break the backbone of South African batting.
Bavuma stayed back to ball that jagged back in at low bounce while du Plessis offered a leave to another one which seamed back in, only to see his stumps rattled.
Shami got rid of de Kock with an inswinger, leaving the visitors reeling at 60 for five. It became 70 for six when innings top-scorer and opener Aiden Markram did not get the required elevation and hit it back to Ravindra Jadeja, who took a brilliant one-handed reflex catch.
Jadeja was all over with South African tail, trapping Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj in front of the stumps off successive balls to make it 70 for eight in the 27th over.
Piedt and Senuran delayed the inevitable by going for their strokes. Piedt’s slog sweep over deep mid-wicket went the distance for the 37th six of the game, breaking the record for most number of maximums in a Test match.
(With inputs from agencies)