Freedom Trophy, 2019
Venue: Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam
Date: 02 October-06 October, 2019
RR: 2.99 | India beat South Africa by 203 runs
160 then. Points for India in the World Test Championship so far. This being a 3-match series, a win gives you 40 points. Way ahead of the rest and given that they are enjoying a home run for a lengthy period of time, the hosts would like to consolidate that spot in the coming months. What about South Africa? They fought hard for the first 3 days but Day 4 was probably where the game slipped away. There are some technical shortcomings as well, along with the weather conditions. But they need to find answers to all these pretty quickly, as the second Test is upon all from Thursday, 10th October, 2019 from 9.30 am local (0400 GMT) in Pune. Would winning the toss make things any better? Doubt that, with India playing so well but Faf du Plessis can perhaps consult Australian Women's captain, Meg Lanning to help win the toss. ADIOS! TAKE CARE!
ROHIT SHARMA HAS BEEN NAMED THE MAN OF THE MATCH. Says that he just wanted to go out there and do what he does best, exploring opportunities at the top. Thanks the coach and management for giving him that chance. Believes that getting 40 points is more important than all that and is happy that India continue to stay at the top of the table in the World Test Championship. On him now opening in all formats, Rohit says that it was communicated to him around 2 years ago, that he might be asked to open, so it was not altogether a surprise and he used to practice really hard in the nets. On him playing watchfully at the start in both white-ball and red-ball cricket, Sharma says that one needs to assess the conditions first and then play your own game. Stresses that the batsman should be leaving the ball outside off, play as close to the ball as possible and then play one's shots, which has been his mantra so far. On being asked about him creating the record for hitting the most number of sixes in a Test, Rohit instantly says that there are quite a few things in Test cricket that he is not aware of. Adds that his main aim was to maintain his focus and outwit the bowlers, who, he believes are very smart these days.
Victorious Indian captain, Virat Kohli, comes up next. On being asked for the win, which was not easy, Kohli admits that it was so. Adds that they did get the result they wanted but admires the resistance shown by South Africa. Details that once you get 500 on the board, you are always in the ascending seat irrespective of the fight shown by the opposition. Praises his batsmen in both innings for scoring quickly and says that it was a tough grind, but due to the weather. On the pacers doing well on a track suited to the spinners, Kohli says that it all depends on the attitude. Adds that in the last 2 years, every Indian pacer has looked to contribute on every pitch, albeit bowling shorter spells and communicating well with the captain, even when conditions are difficult. Praises Ashwin and Jadeja for bowling consistently well, on a flat track in the first innings, with the offie taking 7 there and Jadeja taking quick wickets in the second. On Shami's spell this morning, Kohli feels that the pacer has always done well in the recent past and when the ball reverses, he is unstoppable. In the end, praises all the bowlers. On the current quality of the SG ball, Kohli feels that this particular lot is better than the previous one, staying hard for around 40-45 overs but wants it to be harder till at least 60 overs because, even if the pitch is helping you, you would want the ball to do something as well.
Time for the presentation. Faf du Plessis first up, the South African captain. A bit of a disgruntled look on his face. Praises India for putting up a great total and then his own team for fighting hard. Adds that in an ideal world, he would have loved his bowlers to bowl India out cheaply but has to stop and admire another Rohit special. Is wary of a pitch exploding on Day 5 but apart from the collapse on Sunday morning, he believes that South Africa fought hard. On the wicket for this Test, Faf says that it seemed to hold on a bit and apart from Shami taking a 5-fer on Day 5, the seamers barely got much purchase. Rues the fact that his spinners could not do much in the third innings, which is where the game drifted away. Admits that the collapse this morning was way too quick and it does happen on Day 5 but quickly says that one cannot do much about it, so wants to move forward and look ahead to the second Test.
Mohammed Shami is gifted the stump which he broke, while cleaning up Dane Piedt. On being asked his plan to bowl on the wicket, Shami says that it is very difficult to take wickets on such pitches, so the team planned to bowl in line of the stumps. On the pacers bowling well, Shami says that over the past 4-5 years, the combination of the pacers has been excellent and if the ball starts to reverse a bit, aided with uneven bounce, everyone does well. On breaking the middle order of the Proteas, Shami says that the aim is always to remove the top 5 of the opposition early and in doing that, keep the line which attacks the stumps. Thanks the crowd for its support.
The Indians then. Heroes? Oh you could make movies which could run successfully for the next decade. Rohit Sharma showing that he loves to open in any format. Just 176. 224 less perhaps? Then Mayank Agarwal. Getting to his double ton. The duo staging a 317-run opening stand. Then Ashwin taking a 7-fer, showing that he is still India's number 1 Test spinner. And Rohit again in the second dig, scoring his second century in this Test. And in the final innings, Jadeja and the second innings hero, Mohammed Shami. A total team effort. Simply superb. Given that a seamer has taken 5 wickets on Day 5, simply shows how good India's pace attack is even now. Here is the hero, talking to Sanjay Manjrekar.
Now, to this match overall. How many heroes for the South Africans? Maharaj in the first innings. For believing in himself while getting sent to the cleaners for two days that eventually he will get some reward, ending up with 3 scalps. Then Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis, for ensuring that there is some fight shown and the Proteas do not cave in. Made India bowl 131.2 overs, an achievement in itself, playing spin really well. But that was it. That seemed to take a heavy toll as they simply could not turn up with either bat or ball in the second innings. A lead of 71 was not what India would have expected after scoring 502/7 but the Saffas could not pounce on that opportunity.
India knew they had the aces when they came out to bowl this morning, only having to land the ball in the right areas and allow the pitch to do the rest. South Africa, inexperienced as they were, seemed confused as to whether they should come forward or stay back and were caught in no man's land. Markram was the only man to fight at the top while Muthusamy and Piedt averted some embarrassment with a 91-run stand lower down the order.
So how do you play low bounce and extra bounce? Difficult, very difficult. Probably go forward, rather than backward? And do not leave any ball. ANY. De Bruyn, Bavuma, de Kock and Piedt - all suffered the harsh consequences of the ball staying low while du Plessis chose to leave one and had to leave the field. Though the Proteas might look at that period of the first hour on the final day and call it a manic hour, it would still have been difficult for them or any team to hang around against a quality opposition on a wearing pitch. And that is why life is heaven for spinners in India on Day 5, seeming like hell in the first 3.
Right then. Took a while to come, after a collapse this morning, but eventually, India have won convincingly, with more than a session to spare. For all the fight shown by South Africa in the first innings, sadly, the second dig was a damp squib, though they can blame the inconsistent bounce on the pitch for the same.
Jadeja has a change of ends.
DRINKS! Finally India get the breakthrough and Mohammed Shami is the man who has provided it. Muthusamy and Piedt provided some very stern resistance but now only the former remains. Rabada is the only man which stands between India and a victory now. Will Rabada stick with Muthusamy or will they twist? We will find out in a while!
Mohammed Shami comes back into the attack! Will he continue his knack of taking wickets in the second innings?
Change of ends for Ashwin!
Rohit Sharma is into the attack now. A huge cheer by the crowd as soon as he took the ball in hand.
Ravichandran Ashwin comes back into the attack. 14-3-29-1 so far from him. Can he wrap up the tailenders?
Ishant Sharma will bowl from the other end.
We are back for the second session! Dane Piedt and Senuran Muthusamy are back out in the middle to continue their resistance. Indian players also make their way out to the middle! How long will this session last? Muthusamy will be on strike to Ravindra Jadeja.
... Day 5, Session 2 ...
South Africa, on the other hand, would be disappointed with their performnce. Many expected them to give a tough fight but it was not to be. They lost wickets in a heap and are on the verge of losing this match by a huge margin. After the flurry of wickets, Piedt and Muthusamy have shown how to bat on this wicket and have played well against the spinners. Join us in a little while for what might the final session of the match unless a miracle happens.
106 runs, 7 wickets. That has been the story of the session. India has been on top from the word go. They were brilliant with the ball and it all started with the fall of de Bruyn's wicket off the bowling of Ashwin. After his wicket, the procession of wickets started with Jadeja and Shami being the pick of the bowlers. He started the collapse with three wickets in one over and South Africa were left hanging. India's problem of not being able to finish off the tail resurfaced and the last two wickets have stitched a good partnership to frustrate the bowlers a little bit.
Change of angle for Ishant. Comes round the wicket.
Ishant Sharma comes into the attack! His figures read 3-1-10-0.
Lunch was supposed to be at 1130 local but Kohli has asked the umpires to extend the session by 15 minutes! Lunch now will be at 1145 local (0615 GMT).
Mohammed Shami comes back into the attack!
Interesting field set as there are four fielders in the catcing area towards the off side.
Ravichandran Ashwin is back into the attack!
Dane Piedt comes in to face the music! He will face the Hat trick ball.
Review time! Maharaj has been given out LBW and he has gone for for the review. It looks out but anything can happen!
Keshav Maharaj is the new man in!
Review time! India have taken the review for LBW. Philander is the man in question! It looks very close and let us see what transpires!
Vernon Philander is the new man in! He is on a pair!
Senuran Muthusamy walks into the middle now. The South African batting lineup looks in tatters against this Indian bowling attack.
DRINKS! An excellent first hour for India on the final day of this match and the hosts look to be heading towards a victory. They have taken 3 wickets so far in the opening hour and will be looking to make further inroads into the visitors;' batting lineup before the session ends. In the meantime, Quinton de Kock has come out to the middle. South Africa need him to play a knock reminiscent to his last one.
Mohammed Shami is back into the attack. It looks like Virat Kohli does not want to tire his pacers out and thus is giving them short spells.
Ravindra Jadeja comes into the attack!
Ishant Sharma comes into the attack. He replaces Mohammed Shami after another short spell from a pacer.
Faf du Plessis, the South African skipper walks out to the middle. He is a vastly experienced batsman and he also possesses the ability to dig in when his side need him the most. A crucial wicket for both the sides this.
Temba Bavuma comes in to bat.
Ravichandran Ashwin will bowl from the other end. 5-0-7-0 on Day 4 from him.
The Indian players step out onto the field with one clear objective in mind - rip through the batting lineup of the visitors and bag the victory. One has to be brave to bet against them from doing so as well. The South African batters, Theunis de Bruyn and Aiden Markram are also out in the centre. Markram will take strike as Mohammed Shami starts the proceedings for India.
Hello and a warm welcome to our coverage of the final day of the Test match between India and South Africa! Day 4 saw India going way ahead in the game setting a target of 395 runs for the Proteas. Although one might question Kohli's decision to delay the declaration, the hosts will feel that they still have enough time in hand to bowl out the visitors. The spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin hold the key for the Indians to get a win in this game. The Proteas, on the other hand, again will need to bat out of their skins in order to even secure a draw. They have already lost the wicket of Dean Elgar which is a big blow but would hope for the rest of the batsmen to do the job. They would take heart from the fact that they have never lost a game in India after scoring 400-plus runs in an innings. There is a hint of rain predicted throughout the day which the South Africans won't mind one bit but it is sunny at the moment. An enthralling final day awaits us. Stay with us for all the action from Visakhapatnam.
... Day 5, Session 1 ...
Now then, an exciting 5th day awaits. South Africa will be looking to play for a draw whereas India will be eyeing a win. 9 wickets is what they need and South Africa will probably have to bat out 98 overs. However, there are chances of rain and the visitors won't mind that at all. Do not miss the action which begins at 0930 local (0400 GMT). Till then, take care and goodbye!
Cheteshwar Pujara who is down for an interview says it is a tough pitch when you start your innings and he was finding it difficult to rotate the strike and accelerate but it worked out well in the end. Mentions once he got used to the pace, he knew what shots to play. States it wasn't easy but he needed to adjust. On him playing just one format, Pujara replies that it allows him to improve his fitness but sometimes he is not at his best because of the lack of match practice. Further adds they do have enough runs on the board and also have enough time. Ends by saying the wicket is not easy as there is variable bounce for the pacers and the spinners.
The only time the Indians might have been frustrated on Day 4 was probably when the last pair of South Africa managed to add some handy runs. However, once the last man was dismissed, it was all India. Courtesy Rohit's ton and handy contributions from others, they managed to set a massive target for the visitors. They declared with 13 overs to go in the day, all the overs left weren't possible but India did get a wicket in it.
A huge smile on the Indian players' faces as they make their way back to the pavilion. High fives all around as they head back. It has been their day without a doubt. Not only have they batted South Africa out of the game but have also got the big, big wicket of Dean Elgar in the 9 overs they have bowled.
The umpires are having a chat and off they go! Fair call I believe as it has gotten really dark out there. That will probably be STUMPS and it is!
Theunis de Bruyn walks out to bat
Review time! After a long, long discussion between Jadeja, Kohli and the keeper, India review as an appeal for an LBW has been turned down. The pitching could be an issue or Elgar is a goner.
Ravindra Jadeja to partner Ashwin from the other end. So no pace to start up with. Maybe the darkness is playing a part here.