South Africa took the field on the fourth morning of the Ranchi Test with very little to achieve. The Indian team, on the other hand, walked out in the quest to complete the match formalities, for which they needed only 12 balls as Shahbaz Nadeem dismissed Theunis de Bruyn and Lungi Ngidi off successive deliveries in the second over of the day’s play.
The 12 balls concluded a horrendous Test series for the Proteas in which the margin of defeat kept getting bigger - 203 runs in Visakhapatnam, innings and 137 runs in Pune and innings and 202 runs in Ranchi. This is also their seventh consecutive Test defeat on the Asian soil.
South Africa could add only one run to their overnight total, which came in the form of a leg bye in Mohammed Shami’s opening over of the day. A fifty for the concussion substitute, Theunis de Bruyn, was probably the only thing South Africa had a realistic chance to achieve in order to add to their list of a very few positives from the tour. But the hopes of that too were shattered by a masterful catch from Wriddhiman Saha behind the stumps.
Taking the gloves again after suffering a blow to his thumb in the evening session of the third day, Saha took a brilliant catch off de Bruyn’s failed attempt to cut the ball. The glovesman stayed low behind the stumps showing why he is regarded as the best wicket-keeper in India at present. Next ball, Lungi Ngidi, in no evident mood to hang around smashed the ball right into the non-striker, Anrich Nortje’s shoulder deviating the ball straight towards the bowler, Nadeem who pouched the ball safely.
It was a bizarre dismissal to end the Test, quite adequately signifying the horror Proteas went through in the series. India completed a record 11th consecutive Test series win on home soil with their maiden clean sweep over South Africa. To add a sweet texture to the victory, the contest received the finishing touch from the debutant and the homeboy, Shahbaz Nadeem who finally became an international cricket after a 15-year grind in the domestic circuit.
Rohit Sharma, who had earlier become only the fifth Indian batsman to outscore the opposition in each innings of a Test match, was adjudged the man-of-the-match and the man-of-the-series for his staggering tally of 529 runs at an average of 132.3 including three hundreds, one of which is a double century.
The win widens the gap between India and other countries in the World Test Championship points table. The Virat Kohli-led side now has 240 points in five Tests to be at top of the table. The other eight sides are collectively eight points short of India having played 19 Tests in between them.