South Africa A capitulate against Indian spinners
India A 588 for 4 (Chopra 239*, Badrinath 200*, Patel 110) beat South Africa A 145 (van Wyk 67) and 201 (Tsolekile 63*, Ojha 5-66) by an innings and 242 runs
Weighed down by a mountain of runs, South Africa A crumbled against two spinners of different varieties and a lively young seamer to give India A an innings victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla. A rejuvenated Ishant Sharma got the breakthroughs early in the day but it was left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, with eight wickets, and legspinner Amit Mishra who stifled the tourists and forced the win inside three days.
Sharma, who overstepped a fair deal on day two, was far better in his six-over spell this morning. Having sorted out his no-ball issues, Sharma struck a good line and got into fast-bowling rhythm. Crucially, he was able to extract reverse-swing from a fairly dormant surface. Morne van Wyk, whose 67 was the highest contribution by some distance, was suckered into a tame drive outside the off stump and was well caught at first slip. The ball flew high to Mohammad Kaif, who had little time to react but dived to his right and intercepted as it veered towards second slip.
Sharma then removed Ashwell Prince with one that was fuller and shaped away after pitching. Prince initially came forward but then stood his ground, pushing ever so slightly and nicking into Parthiv Patel's hands. Sharma's discipline on the day paid off and India were right into it.
134 for 4 became 145 for 9 as South Africa collapsed against the spinners. Mishra only bowled two overs on the second day but in the four he got in the morning, he was spot on. Boeta Dippenaar missed a googly and was taken off the inside-edge by Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg. Pujara failed to hold onto a tougher chance as Thami Tsolekile swept hard two balls later, but Mishra had his man just after. He tossed it up a touch more, held it back in the air just a second, and Tsolekile was beaten only to push it to Aakash Chopra at silly point. In between two strikes from Ojha, Mishra dived full stretch to his right to pluck an on-drive from Rory Kleinveldt. Three wickets for eight runs.
Ojha defeated Justin Ontong in the flight as well to hold onto a return catch and bowled last-man Friedel de Wet as he slogged across the line.
The follow-on was enforced and South Africa were in a similar predicament. Pankaj Singh had Werner Coetsee leg before for just six, though the ball may have pitched outside the line of off. Five minutes before lunch Ojha got van Wyk with one that spun away, the batsman playing forward then trying to withdraw only to for Patel to pick up a smart catch.
From 28 for 2 at the interval, there were a few further dents in the South African innings before it was stabilized by Prince. It was Ojha again, bowling Hashim Amla with one that stayed low and came on faster, and using the flight to lure Boeta Dippenaar into chipping to cover. Ashraf Makda dropped a sitter at mid-off from Alviro Peterson, with the score 45 for 3, but it only cost one run. Peterson played down the wrong line to Sharma and was adjudged leg before for 6. Pankaj Singh then came back and on the stroke of tea removed Prince, fishing at a wide one off the back foot and finding Kaif at second slip.
Ontong and Tsolekile pushed back the inevitable with a 66-run seventh-wicket stand but Ontong (35 from 88 balls) edged an attempted lofted on-drive to Kaif at second slip to give Ojha his fourth wicket. The fifth came as Kleinvedlt cut into Kaif's hands at slip but Tsolelike raced to a half-century with a flurry of fours and sixes. With less than two stipulated overs to play, de Wet heaved Mishra to midwicket and South Africa fell to 198 for 9. The umpires consulted and agreed to extend play and Mishra needed just two deliveries to wrap up a comprehensive victory.
Where three of India's batsmen managed centuries - two of them doubles - there were but two half-centuries from South Africa. The teams now head to scenic Dharamshala for the last of the four-day fixtures before the one-dayers start. India will look to wrap up the series, while the visitors would hope the change in altitude brings some much-needed oomph.
Jamie Alter is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo