How Harris choked India
As a template for the perfect Test, this was about as good as it could get for South Africa. Apart from the first one hour, they comprehensively dominated the rest of the four days, losing only six wickets to India's 20 and yet scoring six more runs. They averaged 93 runs per wicket to India's 27.60, which indicates the gulf between the two teams in this match. This is South Africa's fifth win in India, which makes them the only team to win more than they've lost in India in the last 15 years. Pakistan have won three and lost as many, but the other sides all have a win-loss ratio of less than one.
South Africa deserved the win which ends India's streak of not losing a Test under MS Dhoni, and it was quite fitting that Dale Steyn provided the final blow of the match, breaching Amit Mishra's defences to finish with match figures of 10 for 108. It's his fourth ten-wicket haul, but the first by a South African bowler in India: the previous-best figures in India was also by Steyn - 8 for 114 in Ahmedabad in 2008, in a match which also resulted in an innings win. It was India's third such defeat in the last 25 years, and they've all been inflicted by South Africa.
Steyn was the bowling star for South Africa, but on the fourth day Paul Harris did plenty to lift his stocks, which had been dwindling since a poor home series against England, when his 11 wickets came at a cost of more than 40 apiece. In Nagpur, however, the situation was tailor-made for Harris - the batsmen gave him more than enough runs to bowl with, and Steyn's first-innings burst meant South Africa had plenty of time and were in no rush to force a win. That allowed Harris to frustrate the Indian batsmen with his over-the-wicket, outside-leg-stump line. With the batsmen mostly loathe to play the sweep with any conviction, the runs were choked, and Harris ended with three important second-innings wickets.
As the table below shows, Harris bowled 85% of his deliveries from over the stumps, with most of them pitching well outside leg. Of the 194 deliveries he bowled from that angle, the Indian batsmen scored from just 34, which allowed him to stem the runs and build up pressure.
|Balls||Runs||Wickets||Average||Econ rate||Dot balls|
|Over the wicket||194||67||3||22.33||2.07||160|
|Round the wicket||34||9||0||-||1.58||30|
Clearly, going into the second Test India need to formulate a strategy to play Harris. They were mostly defensive, which was understandable given the match situation, but their inability to work out options to get him away for runs is something the team will probably work on over the next four days. They tried the sweep shot 30 times, but scored only 38 runs and lost two wickets - those of Murali Vijay and Sachin Tendulkar - in the process. Wriddhiman Saha executed it better than anyone else, scoring 15 runs from seven deliveries, while Tendulkar scored eight from nine such strokes.
|No shot/ padded away||75||0||0|
Apart from Harbhajan Singh, who swung freely against him, none of the batsmen got runs at a brisk pace against Harris. Dhoni and S Badrinath were the most becalmed - Dhoni scored three in 36 balls, while Badrinath managed a solitary run in 19 deliveries.
The only saving grace for India in the second innings was Tendulkar's 91st international century. It was only his fourth hundred in 38 Test innings against them, and his first in 16 innings against them at home. This was his third hundred in successive Tests, and it continues a superb run for him: since 2007 he averages 57.31 in 31 Tests. During this period he has scored 11 hundreds, with the only blip coming during a barren three-Test series in Sri Lanka.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo