On this day in 2018: India’s brave victory on Johannesburg’s treacherous pitch

India toured South Africa in the 2018-19 season after dominating almost every team at home. This was the first of the back to back away tours for the Virat Kohli-led side and the team had the belief that they can win away from home as well. But despite fighting hard, India lost the first two Tests of the three-match series.

The third Test was played at the Wanderers in Johannesburg where the visitors won the toss and opted to bat first on a pitch which was known for its bounce. As expected, there was uneven bounce on the pitch and despite half-centuries from Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, India were bowled out for 187 runs. South Africa played an all-pace attack and all five bowlers picked up wickets.

In response, South Africa also lost a couple of wickets early as the pitch started to misbehave a lot and this is when the hosts’ camp got worried. At one stage, there was a controversy as South Africa thought it is dangerous to play on the surface. But then, India had also batted in the first innings under similar circumstances and after a brief interruption, play resumed.

Hashim Amla scored 61 runs but none of the other batsmen could adapt to the conditions as India skittled the opposition for just 194 runs thanks to Jasprit Bumrah’s five-wicket haul.

In the second innings, Indian batsmen showed great heart and though there was not a single 50+ score, they did enough to take the team to 247 runs before getting bowled out. While Kohli and Rahane got out in the 40s, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami added crucial runs, 33 and 27 respectively, down the order to propel the team’s score.

Chasing the target of 241 runs, South Africa were sitting pretty at one stage on 124/1 with a century partnership between Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla. But once Ishant Sharma broke the stand picking Amla, it was all one-way traffic. The hosts collapsed sensationally thanks to India’s relentless pace attack led by Shami who took five wickets.

South Africa lost their last eight wickets for 53 runs in 20.5 overs, on this day, as India registered a memorable win by 63 runs. Though they lost the series by 1-2, many lauded the way the team fought on a tough pitch at the Wanderers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was named Man of the Match for his all-round performance where he scored 63 crucial runs with the bat and also picked four wickets.