Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 12 wickets in the match as India defeated South Africa by 124 runs with two days to spare in the third Test at Nagpur on Friday to clinch the fourt-Test series 2-0 and end the Proteas nine-year-long unbeaten streak away from home.
South Africa, who resumed at 32-2 chasing a target of 310, folded up for 185 in their second innings after tea on the third day on a dusty, deteriorating pitch at the VCA stadium. Ashwin followed his 5-32 in the first innings with 7-66 in the second to take his tally in the series to 24 wickets in five innings thus far.
India had won the first Test in Mohali by 108 runs, while the second in Bangalore was washed out by rain after the opening day’s play. The fourth and final Test will be played at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground in New Delhi from December 3, with the hosts firm favourites to complete a 3-0 scoreline.
Proteas captain Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis put on the highest partnership in the Test of 72 runs, scoring 39 apiece, but no other batsman touched 20.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra removed both batsmen in the space of six deliveries just before tea, ending the resistance by the flat-footed tourists against the turning ball.
India have now won eight of their last nine Tests on home soil — all inside three days — having routed Australia 4-0 and the West Indies 2-0 in 2013 before taking the first and third Tests in the current series. The winning sequence was broken only by the drawn rain-hit Bangalore Test.
The defeat marked top-ranked South Africa’s first Test series loss abroad in 15 tours, nine years after the 2-0 setback in Sri Lanka in 2006.
Amla and du Plessis, who came together in the morning session after the fall of the fourth wicket at 58, defended for 46.2 overs in the fifth-wicket partnership. Amla negotiated 167 deliveries and du Plessis faced 152 balls before falling in quick succession to Mishra at the end of the afternoon session.
Amla, whose highest score in the series is 43, edged a catch to his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli at gully. In Mishra’s next over, du Plessis played over an attempted pull and was bowled.
South Africa faced a tough task since a target of over 300 runs had been chased successfully just once on Indian soil — by the home team who made 387-4 to defeat England in Chennai in 2008.
Ashwin struck in the day’s fourth over when left-hander Dean Elgar edged a ball off the pad to Cheteshwar Pujara at silly-point after making 18.
AB de Villiers, the world’s top-ranked Test and one-day batsman, made nine during an uncomfortable 21-ball stay when he was deceived by a straight ball from Ashwin and was trapped in front of the wicket.