Fast bowlers Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn took their combined match total to 14 wickets as South Africa closed out a dominant innings and 25-run win over India early on day five of the first Test at Centurion yesterday.
The Proteas’ leading quicks needed just six overs of the first session at SuperSport Park to seal a series-opening victory as Morkel dismissed Shanthakumaran Sreesanth (3) and Steyn removed debutant Jaidev Unadkat (1) to have India all out for 459 in their second innings, still short of South Africa’s first-innings 620-4 declared.
Batting star Sachin Tendulkar resisted with a sublime 111 not out from 241 balls in his record 50th Test century and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni made a rapid 90 on Sunday, but top-ranked India’s fate was virtually sealed when they were blasted out for 136 batting first — and South Africa responded with a huge total.
“The deficit was just too much to handle,” Dhoni said. “The way South Africa batted, they got too many. It was inevitable.”
Three of South Africa’s five batsmen made centuries, with Jacques Kallis recording a first career double ton, to put the home team one up in the best of three series between Test cricket’s top two teams.
“I’m obviously very happy,” South Africa captain Graeme Smith said. “It’s a big series which has had a massive build up and it was nice to come out and perform and get a good victory.”
“The batsmen were incredible, to take the game to India and play with such positivity was incredible,” he said.
After winning a crucial toss on a fast bowler-friendly pitch, South Africa dominated for much of the milestone-filled match, with second-innings partnerships of 137 between openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir and a 172-run stand between Tendulkar and Dhoni — and Tendulkar’s record century — India’s only highlights.
The Test also saw Morkel return a career-best 5-20 in India’s first innings and AB De Villiers hit the fastest Test century by a South African to power the Proteas to 620-4 — their highest Test total against India.
The series continues with the second Test in Durban on Sunday, ahead of a final match in Cape Town beginning on Jan. 2, with India still seeking a first-ever Test series victory in South Africa at the fifth time of asking.
“Over the next two days it’s going to be important to rest, and take time off from cricket,” Dhoni said, “and then get back in the groove.”
Smith said: “We will take some time off then knuckle down for Durban and hope to make it 2-0.”
South Africa have added batsman JP Duminy and left-arm fast bowler Wayne Parnell to their squad for the second Test.