Talking points from India-South Africa Tests

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin

NEW DELHI: Five talking points after India won the four-Test series against South Africa:

Yet again Ravichandran Ashwin masterminded a series win for India, this time an impressive 3-0 scoreline over the world’s top-ranked Test side. The prolific off-spinner’s 31 wickets in seven innings at an average of 11.12 earned him a man of the series award for the fifth time in his four-year Test career. The performance lifted him to second place in the ICC Test bowling rankings.

A great cricket team is one which wins consistently both home and away and South Africa had not lost an overseas Test series since 2006. But that proud record ended with the defeat on Indian soil. Hashim Amla’s Proteas still remain the top-ranked side, but the lead over new number two India is just four rating points. South Africa face England at home later this month with another defeat meaning they would be knocked off their perch.

As India’s spinners made South African batsmen hop and jump, a debate raged over the underprepared pitches that were laid out for the series. Two of the first three Tests ended in less than three days. India team director Ravi Shastri said there was no rule that prohibited spinning pitches, just as there was no rule against the seaming or bouncy wickets that his team encounters overseas. South Africa refused to blame the wickets, saying it was their batsmen’s inability to tackle the turning ball that cost them the series.

It is rare for Hashim Amla to fail, especially so for an entire tour. Amla, one of the finest batsmen of his generation, averaged just 17.80 in the five-match one-day series that preceded the Tests. The right-hander fared worse in seven Test innings, making just 118 runs at an average of 16.85. Amla’s lack of form was a huge surprise and disappointment given that in six previous Tests on Indian soil he had amassed 823 runs at an average of 102.87 with four centuries.

India made the most of their first Test series at home in two years after being battered and bruised overseas. They had lost just one of their last 17 series on home soil since 2004 and five of their last six home Test wins have come inside three days. With India due to play a majority of their series over the next three years at home, a return to number one is a real possibility. India were last the top-ranked Test team between 2009 and 2011. – AFP

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