India thrashed South Africa by 124 runs in the third Test at Nagpur to clinch the series 2-0 and end the Proteas’ golden run away from home. Here’s a look at the top five performances in the match.
Ravichandran Ashwin: The offie once again stood out on a pitch that had ample assistance for him. It was his bowling effort in the first innings that played a major role in helping India restrict South Africa to a paltry 79. The match was all but India’s from that point. Ashwin got key batsmen like Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl and Hashim Amla for single figures in the first innings. He went on to dismiss the openers again in the second innings. But, this time he went a step ahead, finishing with seven scalps, including AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and the tail. With 12 wickets in the game, Ashwin was the easy choice for man of the match, again.
Ravindra Jadeja: He may have gone wicketless in the second innings, and failed with the bat as well a second time round. But, in the first innings, he shone with both bat and ball. Jadeja was instrumental in India getting past 200 after having decided to bat first. He counter-attacked amidst an Indian collapse, scoring a crucial 34 from 54 with 6 fours, when he was cleaned up by Kagiso Rabada. He then chipped in with four wickets with the ball. Two of his wickets were that of de Villiers, caught and bowled for a duck, and that of du Plessis, clean bowled. Another significant effort by the comeback man.
Amit Mishra: Like at Mohali, the leggie had a support act. But, exactly like in the first Test, he made a key contribution. In the first innings, he cut short JP Duminy’s dangerous innings, trapping him lbw for 35. In the second essay, he broke the stubborn partnership between Amla and du Plessis, which was making India nervous. Mishra had also dismissed the nightwatchman Imran Tahir the previous evening to ensure India are not frustrated, as they often have been in the past, by tailenders.
Murali Vijay: In a match that clearly wasn’t for batsmen, Vijay ended up being the top-scorer, making 40 in the first innings of the Test. There were a number of 30s in the match, but Vijay was the only one to touch 40. Vijay batted with poise until he was dismissed. He batted for 84 balls, and hit three fours and a six. In the context of the match, it was a crucial innings.
Shikhar Dhawan: In the second innings, India’s other opener was the top-scorer. The left-hander made 39 from 78 balls with 6 fours. Although India had gained a huge first-innings lead, they needed someone to steady the ship after Vijay had departed early. Dhawan wasn’t the ideal choice, but he did a surprisingly good job in the company of Cheteshwar Pujara, who contributed 31. That was until he went for a horrendous reverse sweep against Imran Tahir.
--By A Cricket Analyst