Set an unobtainable 480 runs to win on the afternoon of day four in Delhi, India, South Africa embarked on one of the most defensive innings in recent test match memory. The early loss of Dean Elgar was not an ideal start, but what came next was a herculean collective showing of determination.
The highest strike rate of the Proteas batsmen was held by Temba Bavuma. Within the context of this chase, the young opener raced to 34 off 117 balls, as his teammates dropped anchor.
This was exemplified by star names Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, who faced a combined total of 541 balls for their 68 runs. While such a dogged display may have been difficult to watch for the neutrals, the patience and skills required to survive for so long in testing conditions must be applauded.
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De Villiers holds the record for the fastest One-Day International century and is often regarded as the best t20 hitter in world cricket. Yet, over the course of his almost 300 ball knock, he restrained himself to hitting only six boundaries in an attempt to see his country through to an unlikely draw.
Faf du Plessis and Dane Vilas later played their part in the blockathon, but once they had been removed, the tail-enders succumbed to the pace of Umesh Yadav. The South African second innings lasted 143 overs at an almost unprecedented 0.99 runs an over, but it was not enough to avoid defeat.
Credit must be afforded to Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for eventually unlocking the opposition defences. Ashwin’s guile, in particular, has been instrumental in this surprise 3-0 series win.
As the world’s leading test side, South Africa will rightly feel disappointed with their showing in the subcontinent. In fact, the visitors only managed to avoid defeat in Bangalore where much of the match was washed out by rain.
The return of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander to the bowling attack in the near future will improve the side. However, the rest of the team must lift themselves to host an England side who showed promise, but were ultimately outplayed by Pakistan in the U.A.E.
The four-match Test series for the Basil D’Oliveira trophy will commence on Boxing Day in Durban and promises to be a riveting spectacle.
What's the best defensive display you've ever seen in sport? Give your opinion in the comment box below!
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