South Africa fell to the guile of Ravichandran Ashwin once again. The off- spinner once again came out with a match winning performance and took a career-best figures of 7 for 66 as India took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-Test series against South Africa after an emphatic 124-run victory in the third match, in Nagpur.
Ashwin had an overall match haul of 12 for 98, while leg spinner Amit Mishra who gave Ashwin admirable support from the other end took 3 for 51, as the hosts bundled out the visitors for 185 in 89.5 overs in the second innings to wrap up the match 52 minutes after the tea session on Day 3.
The win saw India Test skipper Virat Kohli register his first Test series victory as captain on home soil and ended South Africa’s track record of not losing a Test series away from home for nine years.
The Proteas already down 1-0 in the series needed to score 310 for a series-levelling victory, but fell woefully short of the target, unable to negotiate the Indian spin threat which was led by the 29-year-old Ashwin, who completed his fourth 10-wicket haul in a match in his 31st Test.
Ashwin’s second innings victims included three left-handers — the opening duo of Dean Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl, and Jean-Paul Duminy — apart from the prized wicket of AB de Villiers, the most successful batsman on this tour.
He fittingly took the last wicket by clean bowling last-man Morne Morkel through the gate in his final devastating spell of 4 for 16 off 19 balls.
India were desperate for wicket with Amla and Du Plessis going on well. However, it was Mishra, who got the important breakthrough in the second session to break a stubborn 72-run fifth-wicket stand between rival captain Hashim Amla (39) and Faf du Plessis (39), the visitors’ highest of the match, after capitulation to their lowest-ever total of 79 against India in the first innings.
Mishra got rid of Amla to end the partnership and also packed off du Plessis soon afterwards before Ashwin polished off the tail with the second new ball in a devastating spell.
With India winning at Mohali and Nagpur and the game in Bengaluru being washed out, the teams move on for an final Test at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla from December 3.