Indian skipper Virat Kohli was all praise for his bowlers after Mohammed Shami took 5/35 as the hosts beat South Africa by 203 runs in the first Test on Sunday. India have taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Chasing 395, South Africa were bowled out for 191 (63.5 overs) as Shami and Ravindra Jadeja (4-87) took nine wickets between them. “The wicket played really good for the first three days. We lost a session. When you put 500 on the board, you’re always ahead. Even with the fight they showed, we still had a lead,” said Virat in the post-match presentation ceremony.
India had set an improbable target after declaring their second innings at 323/4 with Rohit Sharma scoring 127. He had earlier scored 176 runs in the first innings, becoming the only Indian test player to score twin hundreds in his maiden test as opener.
“Rohit was outstanding. Mayank brilliant. It was a hard grind because of the conditions, especially the weather conditions. And the pitch slowed down too. It’s all about the attitude,” he said. “If fast bowlers are going to think that spinners are going to do all the work, then it doesn’t justify their place. They ask for shorter spells so they can give 100%.
Praising his team of bowlers, Virat said, “That’s when you see guys like Shami, Ishant, Jasprit and Umesh as well doing well. It’s all about wanting to make a play for the team even in conditions that are difficult. Jaddu and Ash again, really good. Pitch was flat, they got a few boundaries away. Always knew it was going to be a second innings pitch. Shami has been a strike bowler in the second innings. All the guys lived up to their strengths.”
“Batting heroes were obvious. But bowlers had it tougher in this game. This lot of SG balls is much better than the last one. If it softens up, there’s literally nothing happening after 40-45 overs. Will still like it to be harder till about 60 overs,” he added.
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis felt that they began well but Rohit and Cheteshwar Pujara stole the game from them. “We fought well in our first innings with the bat. To get that sort of a total in the second innings of a game in India is tough. Their second innings was tough for us, Rohit and Pujara took the game away from us.
“I thought up until this morning, we competed pretty well on a good pitch. Day 5 if it starts misbehaving like that it’s fine. That’s part of Test cricket. If you are always through a game like that you can think of the what ifs. The seamers were mostly doing a holding job in this game up until today. Shami bowled beautifully today. We got to improve on our spinners taking 4-5 wickets in the second innings. On a Day 5 pitch things happen quicker. It should be like that, it’s perfect like that. We got to move on from this and get ready for the next Test,” Du Plessis said.