Two overs was all it took for India to wrap up an emphatic 3-0 series clean sweep over South Africa, with the hosts clinching the final Test in Ranchi by a mammoth margin of an innings and 202 runs.
It was India’s biggest ever victory over the Proteas in the five-day format and it eclipsed their previous best winning margin of an innings and 137 runs which was attained in the second Test at Pune last week.
After what was a record 11th home Test series win on the bounce for India, we take a look at key players who shone brightest.
#DidYouKnow India's #WriddhimanSaha has the highest catch efficiency (96.9%) versus fast bowlers among all wicket keepers to have taken a minimum of 10 catches since 2017. Do you think he's the best wicket keeper in tests at the moment? #MGCricket #IndvSA pic.twitter.com/cU34M3Y8TF— MoneyGram Cricket (@MGCricket) October 15, 2019
The veteran wicketkeeper might have thought his Test career was as good as over as he watched his replacement Rishabh Pant register record tons in England and Australia last year.
With Pant stamping his mark, Saha’s career was most certainly at a crossroads coming into 2019, especially given his shoulder injury woes.
However, Pant’s patchy wicketkeeping skills reopened the door for Saha, who was handed his first Test appearance in more than 21 months and the 34-year-old grabbed his chance with both hands.
While he wasn’t required to do much with the bat after a prolific series for India’s top-order, Saha showed why he is one of the best glovesman in the world with a stellar display behind the stumps.
His stunning on-side catches in Pune and excellent handling of India’s spinners were just some of his highlights, with the senior man reaffirming his credentials as the first-choice wicketkeeper for home conditions at least.
The Karnataka opener had a promising debut Test series in Australia at the start of the year with two fifties in his three innings. However, all that good work was at the risk of being undone by a poor recent tour of the Caribbean where he averaged just a paltry 20.
Thankfully for Agarwal, not only did he show his Test credentials in his maiden series on home soil, but he did it in style as well. The right-hander finished only behind his opening partner Rohit Sharma in the series run-scoring charts with the help of 340 runs in four innings.
He registered his maiden Test ton in the series opener at Vizag and followed it up with an even more impressive double century in the Pune clash. With the way he has performed against the Proteas, the talented Prithvi Shaw will have to be content for a bench role when he returns after serving his ongoing suspension for a doping violation.
Umesh Yadav becomes the first Indian pace bowler to pick three or more wickets in five consecutive innings at home. #INDvSA— Umang Pabari (@UPStatsman) October 21, 2019
With Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami forging an impressive pace unit for India in their extended away cycle of 2018, Umesh Yadav was fast becoming the forgotten man. The pacer was not even picked in the initial squad for the South Africa series before an unfortunate injury to Bumrah handed him an unexpected recall.
Even then, Umesh had to contend with a spot on the bench in the first Test in Vizag but he pounced ferociously when his chance arrived in Pune. Making his first home Test appearance in nearly a year, the 31-year-old picked up a match-haul of six wickets in the second Test while throwing down just 21 overs in total.
Five wickets in just 18 overs followed in the latest Test in Ranchi with Umesh finishing the series with an outstanding bowling average of only 12.18. Even when Bumrah recovers from injury, Kohli will find it hard to ignore Umesh once again.
Nevertheless, it is the kind of headache the India skipper will not mind in what is turning out to be a golden period for India’s pace attack.
Rohit Sharma first Test series as opener:— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) October 22, 2019
Man of the match in 1st Test
Man of the match in 3rd Test
Man of the series
The sceptics were many for Rohit Sharma after the India limited-overs stalwart was given yet another comeback to the Test squad despite multiple failures in the past to establish himself in the red-ball format.
His dismissal for a duck by Vernon Philander in the pre-series warm-up clash only added further fuel to the critics’ fire. However, that all changed soon in the series opener with Rohit slamming twin tons in his debut as an opener in Vizag.
Feasting upon South Africa’s hapless spinners, the Mumbai man looked imperious in the India whites as he became the first batsman in history to register two centuries on his debut as an opener.
He failed to replicate that success in his only innings in the Pune Test but his reputation was only burgeoned after a maiden double ton in the final clash at Ranchi.
529 runs in total at an average of over 132 is no mean feat and, while tougher away tests will come in the future, Rohit has earned his stripes in the India red-ball setup for some time to come.
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