Four days of intriguing Test match took place at Johannesburg where India have not lost a Test match till today. It was between a bunch of pumped up Indian pacers and a man, who had put a price tag on his wicket so that South Africa crawl back into the game and level the series. Dean Elgar took body blows but never, ever dropped his shoulders while chasing a tricky total on a tough track.
? RESULT | #Proteas WIN BY 7 WICKETS
?? Captain Dean Elgar's unbeaten 96 was the mainstay of the #Proteas chase as he showed plenty of fight and grit to get his side over the line and level the #BetwayTestSeries#SAvIND #FreedomTestSeries #BePartOfIt pic.twitter.com/uez5t7RRqZ
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) January 6, 2022
South Africa won courtesy of the guts of their skipper and this victory should lift the spirits of a team that is struggling at the moment in white clothes.
India were without Virat Kohli, ruled out on the morning of what would have been his 99th Test with upper back spasms. KL Rahul won the toss the first time he walked out as Test captain, though, and chose to bat. However, a returning Duanne Olivier and a rid-of-debut-nerves Marco Jansen ensured India were bowled out for 202 midway through the first day’s third session.
— Graeme Smith (@GraemeSmith49) January 6, 2022
India’s innings comprised two distinct phases. Rahul’s masterful 50 held the top half together, even as wickets fell at the other end, and then R Ashwin’s 46 led the way as the lower order pushed the score beyond 200. But none of the partnerships India strung together were allowed to take root, chiefly due to Jansen.
Olivier’s speeds didn’t even hit the mid-130s, but the bounce he got from a length played a key role. Jansen got the same, with his height giving him additional leverage.
Also read: Dean Elgar: Attritional but effective
On Day 2, With Mohammed Siraj not looking 100% fit, Thakur stepped up with the ball and finished with 7 for 61, the best bowling figures for India against South Africa. However, a 38-run stand for the eighth wicket between Marco Jansen and Keshav Maharaj took South Africa past India’s total.
Both Jansen and Maharaj took the attacking route, hitting three boundaries each in their respective 21s. Jasprit Bumrah, for a change, failed to nail his yorkers and even ended up bowling a beamer to Jansen but eventually pegged Maharaj’s off-stump back to end the partnership.
— Saeed Anwar (@ImSaeedAnwar) January 6, 2022
Two balls later, Bumrah hit Duanne Olivier on his left arm as the batter took his eyes off against a raring delivery. Jansen then tried to keep the strike to himself and even struck two fours in Bumrah’s next over, but Thakur dismissed him and Lungi Ngidi in the space of four balls to wrap the innings up.
In response, India lost Rahul and Agarwal early.
Rahul edged Jansen to second slip where Aiden Markram took a low catch. The on-field umpires referred it upstairs with the soft signal out; the third umpire didn’t find any conclusive evidence to overrule that decision.
Whereas, Agarwal made an error in judgment that resulted in his wicket – He didn’t offer a shot to an Olivier delivery that nipped back off the surface to trap him lbw.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane steadied the ship.
Both men had come into the game with increasing scrutiny about their spots in the XI and ended up making fifties. They were proactive and on the lookout for runs – runs were coming and the lead was increasing.
Great chase from South Africa at the @WanderersZA test cricket at its best!
— Mickey Arthur (@Mickeyarthurcr1) January 6, 2022
Just when South Africa were looking flat, Rabada found a ferocious rhythm after the first drinks break. He hit the hard length outside off that has made balls rear up on this pitch, and moved it away just enough to catch Rahane’s outside edge with the batter unable to prevent his hands from following the ball.
In his next over, Rabada got one to dart back into Pujara at pace and trapped him lbw.
Pant danced down the track and tried to whack Rabada over cover, but only got an edge through to the keeper.
South African cricket needed that panacea. Leaders lead from the front ; Dean Elgar,,,,HERO??.
— Ian Raphael Bishop (@irbishi) January 6, 2022
India had gone into lunch at 188 for 6, but after that Shardul Thakur came out swinging – and also connecting. There was one top-edged six, but five superbly timed fours as Thakur pushed India’s lead into the 200-territory. After he was caught on the boundary off Marco Jansen, Hanuma Vihari farmed the strike and went for his shots.
Even so, he wasn’t always successful in shielding the bowlers, and Bumrah faced down a short-ball barrage from Jansen, in the middle of which there were words exchanged and a mid-pitch confrontation where players had to separate the two men.
India’s target seemed like a safe one given the nature of the surface, where some balls were spitting up off a length.
The best day in South African cricket for the last three years. India's fortress in this country has been breached. Dean Elgar has led exceptionally, with bat and in the aftermath of an unexpected retirement. We go to Cape Town 1-all! #SAvIND
— Firdose Moonda (@FirdoseM) January 6, 2022
South Africa lost Aiden Markram and Keegan Petersen in their chase, but each of the partnerships they have had so far have been substantial, especially in the context of the target. Markram and Dean Elgar took a leaf out of the Pujara-Rahane book and began aggressively, putting on 47 in ten overs. Elgar and Petersen then added 46, while the unbroken Elgar-Rassie van der Dussen stand has yielded 25 runs in 12.4 overs so far.
Elgar played his usual bloody-minded innings, wearing blows on the body, shrugging off edges and balls whistling past, and always finding a way to survive. Apart from the opening burst where Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami had a rare period of not landing the ball exactly where they wished, India’s bowlers kept asking questions of the batters; but until stumps, South Africa’s top order weathered them.
Dean Elgar is one tough bastard. It's fitting he's anchoring this run-chase. Since the start of 2018 only one batsman has batted against tougher bowling/conditions according to our xAve model & only two (Pujara & Rahane) have taken more blows on the helmet, body & gloves. #SAvIND pic.twitter.com/TVuGyD8TM7
— Freddie Wilde (@fwildecricket) January 6, 2022
On Day 5 – the rain had washed out the first two sessions and play started only at 3.45 pm local time. A minimum of 34 overs to be bowled in the day. As it turned out, South Africa needed only 27.4 over those to knock off the remaining 122 runs.
With the outfield still wet, India struggled to keep the ball dry. In the third over of the day itself, they requested for the ball to be changed but the umpires didn’t entertain it.
After multiple requests, the umpires finally changed the ball in the ninth over of the day. However, the subsequent over, bowled by Shami, produced 14 runs.
There were cracks at the good length from where the ball jumped and troubled the sturdy Elgar and composed van der Dussen, but both of them remained firm at their crease.
Their strategy was old fashioned and it paid off.
The Indian pacers gave their all and continued to test the technique and temperament of Elgar and van der Dussen.
Dussen was finally dismissed, but Temba Bavuma – who got a life earlier – ensured no collapse shows up like in 2018.
Elgar struck a gritty, unbeaten 96 as South Africa chased down 240 with seven wickets in hand to consign India their first-ever defeat in Johannesburg. The victory also meant South Africa kept the three-match series, going into the third Test in Cape Town.
Note: Input from ESPNcricinfo