India Win First Test, Takes Big Lead In World Test Championship Table
India went into the first test against South Africa as the betting favourites and they proved the odds makers right by winning in convincing fashion, while also making some rupees for wagering players. India wrapped up the first test on Day 5 and won by 203 runs, which helped them take a big lead in the World Test Championship table.
Since the World Test Championship points table started, India has won three consecutive tests (2 against the West Indies and 1 against South Africa), which gives them a total of 160 points. New Zealand and Sri Lanka, who have played 2 tests are both in second place with 60 points each.
This win also extends Virat Kohli’s captaincy win streak to 29 wins. A win in the second will continue to make his test captaincy record even more impressive.
Indian Openers Pile On The Runs
India have tried different opening combinations for the last two years in test cricket, but did not have a lot of success. The selectors decided to give Rohit Sharma a crack at the top of the order and it paid off great dividends for India.
India won an important toss and decided to bat first. Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal batted together for the first time in test cricket and both had a fantastic test match. The two combined to put on a 300-run partnership that initially appeared to take the game away from the Proteas.
Sharma (176) showed his class and made a big hundred at an impressive strike rate of 72. His knock included 6 sixes and 23 fours and proved that he can be a destructive opener even in the longer format of the game. Sharma fell before he could get to a double century. However, Agarwal put his head down and showed a lot of maturity hitting his first test hundred and then kicking on to get to 215 at a good strike rate of nearly 58.
India declared for 502 and put South Africa under pressure quickly by taking 3 quick wickets. It looked like South Africa would collapse quickly as Ravichandran Ashwin weaved his spin magic and showed why he is still the number one spinner in India. He finished the first innings with 7 wickets.
However, Dean Elgar (160) and captain Faf du Plessis (55) resurrected the South African innings. Quinton de Kock (111) played a great knock with the lower order and helped South Africa to reach an impressive 431.
Sharma Hits Second Century
India had to score quickly in the second innings if they were going to push for victory and Sharma fired once again. He hit his second consecutive century of the match (127). Sharma also played a vital role in getting Cheteshwar Pujara to change his game and get into attacking mode. Ravindra Jadeja, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane played their shots and helped India declare late into Day 4, giving South Africa a target of 395.
Shami And Jadeja Share The Spoils
South Africa had to bat on a fifth day pitch against two of the best spinners in the world. Jadeja and Ashwin picked up the first three wickets. It looked like they were going to run through the rest of the batting lineup.
Mohammed Shami picked up no wickets in the first innings. However, he showed why he is a key part of the test bowling line-up and picked up 5 wickets in the second innings. He broke the back of the middle-order and later came back to clean up the tail. Jadeja picked 4 wickets in the second innings. Sharma was given the Man of the Match award for his back-to-back hundreds.
The second and final test of the Freedom series starts on 10 October in Pune.