Former medium-pacer Vernon Philander says that the home side has always been slow starters in the series but heaped praises on the bowling lineup which restricted India to setting a target of 240 runs. While the target wasn’t daunting in terms of numbers but was significantly difficult to chase on this wicket on the third and fourth day. With the uneven bounce, seam movement, and Indian pace battery, many would have expected an Indian win or a closely fought contest.
But the grit and determination of SA batters, led by Dean Elgar helped the home side to chase the target with the loss of only three wickets. At one time, India looked to be cruising, when Pujara and Rahane had forged more than 100 run partnerships on the morning of Day 3. The runs were coming in easily and India appeared to set a target in excess of 300 at the least. Philander says that “They probably started a little bit slow in the second innings and may have been disappointed with the areas they hit. They could have been trying too hard and in the process afforded India more opportunities than they would have expected.”
But some good bowling backed up by Pant’s soft dismissal ensured that India would soon be folded out. The tail although managed to prolong the lead to 240 runs, it wasn’t enough to put pressure on South Africa considering that they had nearly two days of time to chase the target. The heavy roller looked to have played its part. After its usage, the pitch somehow looked easy to bat on for an hour. And the South African batsman got some quick runs when they came to bat.
But credit has to be given to SA batsmen for surviving the relentless bowling of Bumrah and Shami. “It was probably the best batting performance I’ve seen from the Proteas in a while. The guys were really clinical, and I think the way Dean led with the bat was phenomenal,” said the former medium-pacer. The Indian bowlers went past the bats several times but were not fortunate enough to get an edge. The last test match will be played at Newlands, Capetown and Virat Kohli is expected to get back into the side from his upper back spasm.