Tour and tournament reports

India v South Africa, 2019-20

A review of India v South Africa, 2019-20

Chetan Narula
After being reprieved off a no-ball, Virat Kohli flashes a cheeky grin at a wry Aiden Markram  •  BCCI

After being reprieved off a no-ball, Virat Kohli flashes a cheeky grin at a wry Aiden Markram  •  BCCI

Twenty20 internationals (3): India 1, South Africa 1
Test matches (3): India 3, South Africa 0
If South Africa had hoped for redemption after the World Cup, they did not find it in India, where they lost all three Tests by wide margins. "It was like copy-and-paste in every Test," said their glum captain, Faf du Plessis. "They bat first, they score 500, they declare when it's dark, they get three wickets when it's dark - and when day three starts, you're under pressure."
After their first innings of the series, in which they made 431, South Africa passed 200 only once. India, meanwhile, were never bowled out at all. Virat Kohli's team continued their turbo charged start to the World Test Championship, and cantered to their 11th successive series victory at home - a record, beating two runs of ten by Australia.
The batsmen led the way: Kohli's career-best unbeaten 254 at Pune was one of three double-centuries, each by a different man, a unique feat in a Test series. Rohit Sharma made a triumphant return. He followed his record-breaking World Cup with 529 runs at 132, his opening partner, Mayank Agarwal, was not far behind.
India's bowling attack were full of aces: Ravichandran Ashwin returned to form with 15 wickets, while his spin partner Ravindra Jadeja claimed 13. Seamers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav were also in double figures, which meant Jasprit Bumrah - out with a minor stress fracture in his back - was hardly missed. "Normally in India, you have two players who hog the limelight," said Ravi Shastri, their coach. "Here, we've had six or seven."
In contrast, South Africa's batsmen failed miserably - save for the first innings of the series - their spinners proved ineffective, and the pacemen did not adjust to the SG ball: Kagiso Rabada was their leading wicket-taker, with seven (at 40). The only hint of good news came in the T20 series, which preceded the Tests: victory in Bangalore meant the spoils were shared. (South Africa were due to return in March 2020 for three 50-over internationals). With du Plessis rested, Quinton de Kock was given a trial run as captain, and played two stroke-filled innings. He carried his good form into the First Test, making a superb 111, while Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram both had poor trips.