South Africa won the third test against the world’s number one team, India, with seven wickets at Newlands in Cape Town early on Friday afternoon.
The victory secured them a 2-1 series win, which seemed unlikely after they lost the first test at Centurion. Both at the Wanderers and Newlands, they scored over 200 runs on batting fields with only three wickets down, allowing them to pull off one of cricket’s biggest shocks.
Keegan Petersen was named player of the match and series for his three half-centuries (62, 72, and 82), making him the series’ leading run-scorer with 276.
Having resumed on 171 for three after lunch, South Africa strolled to victory within 30 minutes against a team that had clearly lost its mojo. Virat Kohli didn’t even employ Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. Instead, he opened with Ravi Ashwin, who, like South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj, has struggled on the pace-friendly wickets.
Temba Bavuma (32*) swept Ashwin for four to seal one of South Africa’s greatest comebacks, especially after India just defeated Australia and England away. Bavuma’s strike gave his squad a third successive half-century win.
South Africa resumed on 101 for two overnight, chasing 212 for the win. They knew that a string of early wickets might send shivers through the dressing room. Petersen, 48, started a little shaky, hitting and missing beyond the off-stump, but he settled down and reached his half-century.
Both batsmen had a lot of luck on a track that favored lots of seam and swing, but Bumrah and Shami couldn’t find the edge of their bats.
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When Petersen edged Bumrah to first slip on 59, Cheteshwar Pujara lost a simple chest-high catch.
In the penultimate over before lunch, the ball was shown to clip the top of Marais Erasmus’ leg-stump, and Marais Erasmus’ immediate shake of the head proved essential to the batsman’s survival.
Despite this, Petersen and Van der Dussen played well, scoring runs when they could. After reaching his maiden test century, Petersen returned to Shardul Thakur and played off the inside edge.
A beautiful back foot boundary through the covers was the highlight of his 82 in just 113 balls. Petersen walked away dejected, although he had not only scored 276 runs in the series but had led his team to 155 for three, 57 runs away from victory.
The Indian spinners put pressure on Van der Dussen and new batter Temba Bavuma, but Bavuma broke the spell with two superb drives for four off Bumrah just before lunch.
Those strikes seemed to destroy the Indians’ spirit, and the batters strolled after lunch.