IND vs SA: India loses its first-ever Test at Wanderers
Dean Elgar was content to forego aesthetics in favour of efficacy as he led South Africa to a creditable seven-wicket victory
Dean Elgar, who skipped South Africa to a creditable seven-wicket victory in the second Test against India here on Thursday, was content to forego aesthetics in favour of efficacy.
India's first defeat at the Bull Ring in 30 years.
Chasing a 240-run target, skipper Elgar, who was willing to appear ugly and forgettable in terms of aesthetics, as is typical of southpaws, batted his way to an unbeaten 96 to set up a thrilling final Test at Newlands in Cape Town on January 11.
On a rain-soaked fourth day, Rassie Van der Dussen (40) sealed victory with an 82-run stand, marking an unhappy start to India captaincy for KL Rahul, who is expected to be nurtured for future leadership.
In the third evening, Elgar had soaked up all the pressure and animosity, effectively blunting the Indian attack, and Mohammed Siraj's injury in a tough chase proved a major issue.
The Proteas captain had received a few punches to the head, a few to the chest, a few more to the knuckle, and one to the shoulder, all of which were like medals of honour for a batter who adheres more to the "Shivanarine Chanderpaul School of Batsmanship" than Brian Lara's.
Elgar seemed unfazed by the lip service, smirking, smiling, and going about his business, leaving the visitors even more dissatisfied.
In truth, with the exception of the second innings of this match, it has been more about solid starts this season. In the end, India's poor first-innings score of 202 proved to be their undoing.
During the third day's post-play media interaction, Cheteshwar Pujara mentioned that the first hour was beneficial for batting, but he hadn't considered the rain, which would bring a lot of moisture but also make the ball wet, making it harder to grip.
India's bowling performance in the previous three innings of this series has been judged poor on this day.
It's tough to think that the young captain wasn't coached about the combination to deploy from the start, especially with both head coach Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli in the dressing room.
Elgar's second half-century in two games came from an Ashwin on-drive, and the off-spinner couldn't be criticised for trying to bowl a little flatter to keep the batsmen in check.
The wet ball added to India's woes, with both Bumrah and Mohammad Shami (17-3-55-1) attempting to bowl too short, resulting in at least two boundary byes over the head of Rishabh Pant.
Van van Dussen, who had looked uncertain earlier in the day, came into his own with a flick and pull off successive Shami deliveries, and the spinner, frustrated, bowled a bouncer for four byes.
The goal had been reduced to 65 by then, and when Thakur missed a tough reflex return catch supplied by Temba Bavuma, the Indians' season was over.
When Bavuma despatched Bumrah through the covers, the shoulders of most of the players eventually dropped.
Kohli's participation in the series decider is essential for India, as Rahul, despite his ability, appears to be a work in progress. The million-dollar issue is whether Kohli will be totally fit.