India’s love affair with the Wanderers continued as they clinched a 63-run victory over the Proteas in the third Test on Saturday.
It continues the curious trend of them being unbeaten at the ground (two wins now included) though they still lost the series 2-1.
But Virat Kolhi and his men won’t worry too much about that.
Instead, they should feel an overwhelming sense of justice because for various periods in this compelling match it felt as if their efforts didn’t get what it deserved.
Proteas coach Ottis Gibson admitted at the end of day three that the visitors had utilised the conditions far better and yet the rewards seemed few.
Most notably, there was the pitch fiasco that threatened to lead to an abandoned Test – only the third in history.
India were adamant throughout the short but intense saga that this match needed to finish.
After all, they managed 248 in their second innings on a “terror” of a track and – even before the Proteas’ batting collapse – bowled with far more discipline than the home side.
Saturday started on a tense note.
Given that the umpires have been instructed to remain on high alert for any instance of of the surface behaving erratic again, India’s drive towards a win wasn’t guaranteed.
It would only take another Dean Elgar incident for everything to probably be called-off.
Pleasingly, the state of the pitch was merely a prominent sub-plot to proceedings and not the main talking point.
In fact, Elgar and Hashim Amla had made it seem as if South Africa would be able to pull off a fairly comfortable win.
They were dogged in compiling a partnership of 119 for the second wicket.
Hashim Amla continued to tame the surface expertly as he played some sublime strokes on the leg-side to reach a fine 52 but he would’ve been frustrated by his dismissal, when he clipped straight to Hardik Pandya at short midwicket.
Surprisingly, that’s where the resistance crumbled.
AB de Villiers (6) succumbed to a Jasprit Bumrah delivery that straightened, Faf du Plessis (2) was the victim of low bounce of a ball that cut back and Quinton de Kock was, well, Quinton de Kock in this series.
He was plumb LBW off his first ball.
He is absolutely nowhere currently.
Finally sensing their moment, Mohammed Shami skillfully (5/28) wrapped up the tail as the Proteas lost their last nine wickets for 53 runs.
The one man left standing, was Elgar.
The left-handed opener is not pretty look at, especially when he’s struggling for form.
But to carry his bat with 86 off 240 balls, was, in a word, epic.