New Delhi: Ravindra Jadeja plotted South Africa’s downfall with a five-wicket haul after Ajinkya Rahane’s brilliant century as India gained complete control of the fourth cricket Test by taking a commanding 213-run lead on the second day here on Friday.
Jadeja produced a mesmerising spell of 5/30 to skittle out the hapless visitors for a paltry 121 in 49.3 overs on a sporting Feroz Shah Kotla track.
The Proteas did not even bat two full sessions falling 14 runs short of saving the follow-on score of 135 after Rahane’s 127 helped India post a decent 334 in their first innings. The Indians, however, decided not to impose the follow on.
While left-arm spinner Jadeja accounted for bulk of the spoils with pin-point accuracy, it was a magical delivery by pacer Umesh Yadav (2/32) and Ishant Sharma’s (1/28) sharp bowling that remained the highlight of the final two sessions.
Ravichandran Ashwin (2/26) also increased his series wickets tally to 26 after helping himself to a half-century with the bat.
With a far better pitch on offer, it seemed that South African batsmen had lost the battle in their heads even before they came out to face the Indian quartet on the 22 yards.
It was a combination of disciplined bowling and some reckless batting that led to South Africa’s downfall.
Once again, AB de Villiers fought a lone battle scoring 42 and was the 9th batsman to be dismissed when Ishant took a well judged catch at the long-off boundary.
With three full days left in the game, India were firmly in the driver’s seat to record a historic 3-0 win over South Africa.
Comeback-man Yadav drew first blood by removing Dean Elgar (17), who was caught by Wriddhiman Saha trying to steer a fuller delivery.
In the post tea session, it was Jadeja, who got into the act with his accurate length bowling.
Opener Temba Bavuma (22), who replaced an out of form Stiaan van Zyl, was bowled by an arm ball that kept low.
Hashim Amla’s (1) horrible series continued as he tried to play square cut when a Jadeja delivery was too close for comfort. The result was a nick snapped up by Saha behind the stumps.
From 56/3, it soon became 62 for four when Faf du Plessis (0) tried to play a lap shot only to find Rahane run back from his first slip position to take a simple catch at backward short leg.
However, it was Umesh, who produced the delivery of the match to dismiss JP Duminy (1).
He came from round the wicket to produce a sharp off- cutter (leg cutter for the left-hander). The ball pitched on the middle stump as Duminy rightly committed to play forward but to his surprise found it nip away knocking his off-stump making it 65 for five.
In danger of conceding follow-on, the Proteas’ woes were compounded when Ishant Sharma got one to jag back sharply castling Dane Vilas (11).
Finally, Ashwin also got his name on the wickets column as he trapped Kyle Abbott (4) to make it 80 for seven. Dane Piedt (5) went for a drive and only edged one to Rahane at first slip.
Earlier, the highlight of the first session certainly was Rahane’s 127 off 215 balls as he achieved the distinction of being the first player from either side to have reached a three-figure mark in this low-scoring series so far.
The stylish right-hander’s knock was studded with 11 fours and as many as five sixes. He added 98 runs off 193 balls for the eighth wicket with Ravichandran Ashwin (56), who completed his sixth half-century in the longest format.
Incidentally, this was also the highest stand for any wicket among either teams in the series. Rahane-Ashwin duo surpassed the previous best of 86 between Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Among the many firsts, it was Rahane’s first hundred on home soil. This was also the first time that one team passed a total of 300 runs with the previous highest being 215 at Nagpur.
This was also the first time that only one wicket fell in a single session which yielded 95 runs. Another first was Rahane’s hundred against South Africa and he has now scored five centuries against five different oppositions: Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
What made the knock even more special is the fact that this is the ground where he made an inauspicious Test debut failing (7 & 1) in both innings.
Rahane’s moment of glory came with a well-placed straight drive off Kyle Abbott, prompting the entire Indian dressing room to give him a standing ovation. The 100 came off 180 balls which included 10 well-timed boundaries and two sixes.
However, the count of maximums doubled once he reached his ton. He hit off-spinner Dean Elgar for successive sixes. The first was an angled delivery which Rahane danced down the track to hit wide of long on. The next also met with identical fate but it was over long-off.
The only blemish was when on 101, Rahane tried playing a forward defensive stroke and the edge was dropped by wicketkeeper Dane Vilas much to the frustration of the left- arm spinner Dean Elgar.
Rahane’s dismissal was a soft one when Imran Tahir bowled a fullish delivery which the batsman hit straight at AB de Villiers standing at covers.
It obviously helped that he found an able ally in Ashwin, who was prepared to stay at the wicket and grind it out. At the same time, he did not mind punishing the loose deliveries that came his way.
He hit some elegant boundaries — six in all apart from the cover boundary off Tahir that brought about his half- century.
In the post lunch session Ashwin did not last long as a mistimed pull-shot brought about his downfall. He faced 140 balls for his 56.