India clean sweep series against South Africa with 3-0 win
A formidable Indian team ticked all the boxes with ease as it completed a 3-0 rout of an out-of-sorts South Africa with an innings and 202 runs victory in the third and final Test in Ranchi on Tuesday.
With another 120 points in the ongoing World Test Championship, India now sit pretty on top of the table with 240 points as the formalities were completed within the first two overs of the fourth day.
This was Virat Kohli's 11th series win as captain and the first clean sweep over the Proteas who were no match for the hosts. This was India's 11th successive series triumph on home soil.
The scoreline was not only an indicator of India's absolute dominance but also the decline in standard of South African cricket as the visitors couldn't handle the might of India's batting and the fiery pace attack led by Mohammed Shami (13 wickets in the series).
Debutant left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (2/18 in 6 overs) wrapped it up in the second over of the day as South Africa were all out for 133 in their second innings, 29 runs short of their dismal first innings score of 162.
This was India's sixth clean sweep at home in a three-Test series and the side didn't put a foot wrong during the three-match series, winning the first Test by 203 runs and the second one by an innings and 137 runs.
If Rohit Sharma's coming of age in his new role as an opener with 529 runs, turned out to be a masterstroke in home conditions, Mayank Agarwal also consolidated his place in the side with a double century and a ton, easing India's long time opening woes.
"I was very happy to make my debut in Australia and make little contributions to the team. It's hard work over a period of many areas," Agarwal said after the match.
However, what stood out during the series was how lethal the Indian pace attack looked despite their premier pacer Jasprit Bumrah's absence due to a stress fracture.
Rarely has there been a series where the impact of pacers has been as much as the spinners.
If Ravindra Jadeja (13 wickets) and Ravichandran Ashwin (15 wickets) shared 28 among themselves, Mohammed Shami (13 in 3 Tests), Umesh Yadav (11 in two Tests) and Ishant Sharma (2 in 2 Tests) picked 26 wickets.
"We are always ready to fulfill our responsibility. As a captain, Virat gives you confidence, lets you do what you want. We try to keep the ball in the right areas and bowl the right length," Shami said at the end of match.
"Fitness matters a lot, the atmosphere in the team is such that we are focussed on fitness. The Indian team has become a unit which enjoys each other's success and that helps our confidence. As fast bowlers, we have gone up a rung," said the senior speedster.
It was one such series, where South African batsmen looked scared and scarred by the ferocity of India's pace attack. The pacers did a lot of damage with the new ball and reversed the old ball.
Two hundreds and four fifties is all that the South African batting line-up managed and South African skipper Faf du Plessis agreed that they were completely outplayed on sporting tracks unlike the ones in 2015 where the ball was turning square.
"They were ruthless and they were better than us in every department - spin bowling, fast bowling, batting and even the fielding. They are a difficult team to overcome," Du Plessis agreed.
Pleased as punch, skipper Kohli couldn't agree more with his opposite number.
"You guys have seen how we're playing. Making things happen on pitches that don't seem to offer too much, is something we're very proud of," Kohli summed it up aptly.