India v South Africa: Senior players fail to fire for Proteas as pace becomes their undoing again

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Pacers torment Proteas once again. Image - BCCI/Twitter.

Just two wickets remain for India to complete an emphatic 3-0 series clean sweep over South Africa with the visitors completely crumbling with the bat on Day Three of the final Test in Ranchi.

Having started the day’s proceedings at 9-2 in reply to India’s commanding first innings total of 497, it only got worse for the Proteas who lost as many as 16 wickets over the course of the three sessions.

They were bundled out for just 162 runs in their first innings with India skipper Virat Kohli having no hesitation in enforcing the follow-on. It didn’t get any better for South Africa in their second go with the bat and they were reeling at 132-8 before stumps were drawn on Day Three.

It was a day which clearly belonged to India’s formidable bowling unit with their relentless display being one of the key talking points.

Pace is South Africa’s undoing once again

South Africa’s inexperienced line-up might have expected a baptism by spin in India but it has been anything but, with pacers running riot for the third Test in a row.

Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami had given the hosts a flying start with the ball on Day Two with the early dismissals of the Proteas openers, and they were at the batsmen’s throats once again on Monday with a fiery display of fast bowling.

Attacking the stumps with lethal accuracy, the two India pacers had South Africa’s batsmen in all sorts of trouble with their aggression and intensity fetching them due rewards. Both pacers claimed five wickets apiece across the two South Africa innings with India’s spinners relegated to a supporting role.

With 13 dismissals, Shami is now just two wickets behind Ravichandran Ashwin in the wicket-taking charts for the series with his average standing at a stellar 14.76. Yadav, meanwhile, has been even more impressive with 11 wickets in his two Test appearances at an outstanding average of 12.18.

The best of South Africa’s pacers – Kagiso Rabada – has averaged just 40.71 in the series.

Umesh has been on fire in the two Tests. Image - BCCI/Twitter.

Umesh has been on fire in the two Tests. Image – BCCI/Twitter.

Seniors disappoint for South Africa

After two chastening defeats in Vizag and Pune, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar had emphasised the need for the team’s senior players to raise their hands up in the third Test. That didn’t come to fruition with their more experienced stalwarts failing to fire in Ranchi.

While Elgar would contribute just 16 runs in total after being forced to retire injured in the second innings, Du Plessis himself was equally poor with a match aggregate of only five runs.

Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, too, failed to get going with nine runs coming from his two innings while Temba Bavuma was marginally better with a 32-run contribution in the match.

South Africa can lament their inexperience for what has been a miserable tour of India but the continuous failure of their senior players to stand up to the test is what has cost them most dearly.

A series to forget for Faf du Plessis. Image - BCCI/Twitter.

A series to forget for Faf du Plessis. Image – BCCI/Twitter.

Test rookies show the way for visitors

While the senior South African stars were abject in their surrender, there was some fight shown at least by the rookies in the squad.

Making only his second Test appearance, top-order batsman Zubayr Hamza showed he has a bright future with a gritty knock of 62 the first inning. The 24-year-old was dismissed for a duck by Shami in the second innings but it was a near unplayable delivery that got his number.

Meanwhile, debutant George Linde backed up his impressive bowling show with two fighting knocks with the bat on Day Three.

The South Africa spinner ultimately ended up as the most prolific batsman for the visitors in Ranchi with his two innings aggregating 64 runs in total. The application he showed at the crease in the face of fire, along with Hamza, was a lesson to the senior players who seemed mentally defeated after their failures.

Zubayr Hamzfa with a fighting 62. Image credit - CSA/Twitter.

Zubayr Hamzfa with a fighting 62. Image credit – CSA/Twitter.

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