How patient India outlasted obdurate Proteas

08 December 2015

Kohli celebrates the final wicket in Delhi // BCCI

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A reflection on South Africa's dogged resistance on how India exploited the smallest of cracks to break it down

India defied a staunch and determined South Africa to wrap up the Delhi Test and claim a 3-0 series win that saw Virat Kohli's team climb to No.2 in the ICC Test Rankings.

As the dust settles on an enthralling and captivating series, we look back at the key moments that secured Kohli's place in history.

Protea patience now a common trait

South Africa had thrown down the gauntlet on the fourth day. They weren't going after the target of 481, but they weren't going go down without a last-ditch effort to save the match either.

Their task was bordering on the improbable, needing to bat out at least 162 overs to save the Test; only one team has batted more overs in the final innings to draw a game outside of the Timeless Tests.

Still, having fought through 72 overs on the fourth day and lost just a couple of wickets, South Africa had given themselves a ray of hope. And on the final day, with the signs of the surface having slowed down considerably, the trio of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis stonewalled a further 48 overs for the loss of just one wicket to raise their chances of escaping with a draw.

Amla, who has had a wretched tour of the country, batted for 244 deliveries, de Villiers went on to offer his dead bat to most of the 297 deliveries he faced and even the otherwise out of form du Plessis looked to have overcome his initial nerves and looked like he could stay firm.

A session and a half remained, de Villiers looked unmovable, the bowling was beginning to look a tad ragged and most vitally, the light had begun to fade.

Du Plessis blocks out stubbornly on the fifth day // BCCI

At that stage, South Africa would have believed a draw wasn't out of reach despite knowing a wicket could turn things around dramatically and made it tougher for the lower-order batsmen.

"We definitely believed it (a draw) could happen. Till lunch time, we were three down, definitely we believed we could do it," Amla said in the wash-up.

"We knew the last session and the last hour was always going to be difficult. You lose one or two wickets and it becomes difficult for 8, 9, 10 to hang in there.

"We tried our best. AB de Villiers did an exceptional job in trying to hold it together for us but unfortunately we couldn't get it to as deep as we would have wanted."

In total, South Africa batted 143.1 overs, but it was the resilience shown by the top five that stood out; by the time they had lost their five wickets, a total of 138.4 overs were consumed.

South Africa's tail does not wag

Amla, de Villiers and du Plessis were always going to hold the key if South Africa had to succeed in batting through the day. For India to have a chance they had to break through to the likes of JP Duminy, Dane Vilas and the lower order and for that they needed to pick up at least two of the aforementioned three.

Captain Amla departed in the first session but de Villiers and du Plessis seemed to have ridden the storm well. India looked like they were running short of ideas, and that was not just because the wickets weren't falling but also because for long periods there were nothing beating the bat or taking any edges.

The spinners couldn't make the balls didn't jump up in spite, and whatever turn there was on offer was negotiated because of the slowness of the surface.

It was in the 115th over of the innings that things began to change for India. There was one delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin in that over that spun viciously and hit de Villiers' pad. Next Ashwin over, there was another of those deliveries to de Villiers and this time it popped up for a fielder to catch but again, it had come off the pad.

Ashwin celebrates a five-wicket haul // BCCI

Ravindra Jadeja, recalled into the attack just an over earlier, beat du Plessis' bat with one that turned away and bounced and when Ashwin rapped de Villiers on his pads again next over, it had been four times in five overs that the South African batsmen looked troubled, quite a change from their usual, assured self before that.

This culminated into a wicket in the 120th over, a classic Jadeja dismissal too. From left-arm round, Jadeja got one to spin away from the batsman, and then a few deliveries later, he had one go straight on with the angle. Du Plessis was probably playing for the turn and the ball thudded into his pads, leaving the umpire without much doubt before he gave it out, lbw.

It was a perfect setup leading to the landing of a crucial blow, even the turning point of the match.

Amla chose not to blame any of his batsmen though and said they did whatever they could

"You are going to lose wickets here and there. It was not a case of throwing wickets away," Amla said of the collapse.

"If a guy gets out, he gets out as long as you commit to the team's goal. The last session day five, playing in India is always going to be difficult."

Yadav bags the spell of the day

Ashwin's five wickets included the all-important scalp of de Villiers, but purely from a spectacle's point of view, Umesh Yadav's bowling on the final day was the standout.

In the first two sessions, he looked the only bowler who troubled de Villiers. Every time captain Kohli thought his spinners were tiring out, he was happy to go back to Yadav and while he didn't pick up wickets in his earlier spells, he did peg de Villiers back on a couple of occasions.

WATCH: De Villiers cops a double nasty blow 

Yadav managed to extract bounce from a good length, and rapped de Villiers twice on his gloves.

He came back later in the afternoon, just before the tea-break and immediately smashed de Villiers on his fingers again, before returning in the third session to clean the South African tail.

In the first over after tea, Yadav kept tailing the ball in late and then moved one away. Thoroughly flummoxed, Dane Vilas inside-edged the fifth ball of that over on to his stumps.

Yadav celebrates destorying Kyle Abbott's stumps // BCCI

An over later, Kyle Abbott had his stumps broken, literally, before inducing an edge from Dane Piedt that was gobbled up fantastically by Wriddhiman Saha.

Yadav's final figures were dazzling 3-9 from 21 overs with 16 maidens in them.

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