2021 started with a breach of a fortress in Australia so it is only fair that this Indian Test team ended the year in a similar fashion as they beat South Africa by 113 runs at the Centurion for the first time in Test cricket. KL Rahul’s 123 in the first innings set the game up perfectly for the visitors. After a rusty first day for the Proteas, they were always behind the eight ball and lost the match on a venue where they are super dominant.
A Test win in South Africa doesn’t come along too easily for the Indian team but this side under Virat Kohli made it such a routine affair and there could be no better compliment than this. Here’s how they became the first Asian side to win a Test at the SuperSport Park in Centurion.
YET ANOTHER FORTRESS BREACHED
From 1st Jan 1990 to 31 Dec 2007 India won just four Tests in SENA. In 2021 alone they have won four, their best record in a year away from home. It all started in Australia with defending Sydney with their lives and then breaching Fortress Gabba. The end of the year came in the best possible way as this Indian side conquered Centurion as well. The New Year’s wish for the fans now would be for this team to become the first Indian side to win a Test series in South Africa.
KL RAHUL’S SUBLIME CENTURY
KL Rahul has had a year to remember. He has established himself as the first-choice opener for the Indian side in all formats now. His Test match batting has undoubtedly gone to a whole new level. Just a couple of years back it seemed like his career was heading nowhere, his talent was never in doubt but some clear technical errors had crept into his game and his mindset didn’t seem right for the Test arena. In 2021, it is clear that Rahul trusts his defence way more and his batting is based on patience rather than flamboyance. His century at Lord’s earlier in the year was a special knock but this 123 at Centurion might just top that. In difficult conditions on the first day, Rahul played a chanceless inning and before you know it he had reached his hundred.
JASPRIT BUMRAH IS ALL CLASS
When Jasprit Bumrah twisted his ankle in his sixth over of the first innings, there seemed to be pin-drop silence at the ground. His mates looked in shock and it looked pretty serious in slow motion. He did seem to walk it off and came back to bowl a few overs at the latter end of the innings. It was in the second innings that we saw the best of Bumrah again. Just when things were about to go flat for the Indians late on day four, Bumrah pulled off a spell to remember. The balls to dismiss Rassie van der Dussen and Keshav Maharaj were unplayable. Those two wickets late in the day helped India go into day five with supreme confidence. Then on day five, he was needed again to dislodge a well set Dean Elgar and up stepped Bumrah. Easily the most talented bowler going around in Test cricket currently.
MOHAMMED SHAMI’S BIG IMPACT
It was great to see Mohammed Shami step up and take the leadership role of the bowling attack in the absence of Bumrah in the first innings. ‘Second innings Shami’ made life extremely uncomfortable for the South African batters in the first innings itself. He bowled perfect lines and his seam position was as upright as ever to get him his 200th Test scalp and a well-deserved five-wicket haul in the first innings.
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