Johannesburg: Back in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, the Indian deadly spin quartet of Bishan Singh Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan used to call the shots for the team in both home and overseas conditions.
Forty years down the line, it is the pace bowling unit led by Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav that has proven why they are the best that the country ever produced. The 63-run win against South Africa in the third Test at the Wanderers is just an example of that.
The success of the Indian bowling can be well-explained from the fact that they took 60 wickets in a three-match Test series away from home. Although the Proteas won the series 2-1, this victory would be remembered for a long time to come.
This win would even be more satisfactory, if looked at from how the match turned out on the fourth day. The Proteas began with rock-solid determination as Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla seemed to have an answer for all the threats posed by the bowlers but once an opening was found, it didn’t take long for the pack to capitalise on it and trigger a dramatic collapse to bundle them out for just 177, 63 runs short of the target.
Courtesy this dramatic win, Virat Kohli also equalled Sourav Ganguly’s record of 21 Test victories as captain.
The star of the day was Shami, who displayed a fine example of quality pace bowling as his five wickets helped India avoid a whitewash and led India to one of its famous Test wins in overseas conditions.
The first to bite the dust was Hashim Amla, who after a well-made 52 and after a long 115-run stand with Elgar was sent back by Ishant, courtesy a good catch by Hardik Pandya. Bumrah, playing only his third Test joined the party after AB de Villiers failed to negotiate a bouncer and offered a catch to Ajinkya Rahane, who grabbed it both hands.
The collapse had begun as skipper Faf Du Plessis was the next one to fall, with a delivery from Ishant nipping back in to disturb the woodwork behind the right-hander. With Bumrah trapping Quinton de Kock in front, the match was in India’s control.
However, Shami’s magical bowling towards the end which saw him dismiss Philander (10), Phehlukwayo (0), Morne Morkel (0) and Lungi Ngidi (0) meant that India kept their winning record at the Wanderers intact with a spectacular 63-run victory. The last eight South African wickets fell for just 53 runs, which again goes to show how the game has been turned around by the Indian pace bowling unit.
South Africa 194 all out and 177 all out (Dean Elgar 88*, Hashim Amla 52; Mohammad Shami 5/28) lost to India 187 all out and 247 all out by 63 runs.