Published: Wed, January 17, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

India face series defeat in South Africa after collapse

India face series defeat in South Africa after collapse

If there was one man who could overcome the vagaries of the pitch and the South African attack, it was Kohli.

Yes, South Africa have moaned on every occasion they've had about this atypical SuperSport Park pitch, and how.

Whatever the doubts over India's No. 1 ranking outside of the home comforts of India, there were none over the class of Kohli, whose 21st Test century was a blend of grit and attacking intent and nearly single-handedly took his team to 307 all out and just 28 behind South Africa's first-innings score of 335.

"Getting Virat was a massive wicket and it's huge for India as well, knowing that he won't be batting for them tomorrow". India collected those three wickets in the space of six overs and for just 19 runs.

It was the flawless combination for South Africa, and with de Villiers in, the run-rate was never a problem, too. Also, Shami is not known for his control; his spell in the morning had been an aberration to his series form and high economy rate. He kept fishing outside off at Shami and finally nicked one playing away from his body.

The new sensation, the big, strong and pacey Lungi Ngidi soon got into the act, dismissing K.L. Rahul who sliced a short delivery into backward point's hands. He was also involved in a verbal battle with R Ashwin, who memorably told him "This is not Johannesburg", on one occasion. If not for the excellent effort from the bowlers, the target could have been far more than 287. There was a patch of rough to work with from that end, but equally important was the uneven bounce on offer for a fast bowler's hard length from the other end.

The South African captain received a standing ovation from coach Ottis Gibson and his teammates for an innings of 48 that lasted three and three-quarter hours, in which there was little dazzling stroke-play but plenty of hard graft. They arrived with an impressive away record and a belief in some unspoken moral code prohibiting home teams from preparing pitches that radically favoured their bowlers.

Ishant bowled with pace and aggression, putting the Proteas batsmen under pressure on several occasions and was rewarded with a couple of wickets after lunch. That strategy did not help India. India were eager to continue and take advantage of the situation with the possibility of the ball swinging under lights, and an angry Kohli was spotted taking to the match referee Broad.

The most contentious of all moves. The next best score by an Indian batsman was 46, by opener Murali Vijay.

Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis tried to make amends and kept the scoreboard ticking, while he continued to run out of partners. Patel opts to block out the remaining deliveries, as India reach 35/3 after 23 overs at the end of the day's play, with one run coming off the last over. It was perhaps lack of experience that India didn't recognise how desperate the situation was in the afternoon.

Speaking to reporters after the day's play, Shami didn't take kindly to questions about his inconsistent bowling in this series before the second innings in Centurion.

His first edge flew past Rohit Sharma at wide slip. Parthiv Patel showed plenty of guts on the fourth evening, surviving a bruising examination from Ngidi. When they take the field at Centurion on Wednesday (January 17), it will be two years, one month and 10 days since their torment was completed on an agonising fifth day in Delhi.

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