India has dominated South Africa to win the third test by eight wickets inside three days, squaring the series 1-1 and retaining its world No. 2 test ranking.
|Virender Sehwag, centre, celebrates with MS Dhoni |
as Jacques Kallis is dismissed [GALLO/GETTY]
In an extraordinary day, India turned what had been an evenly-poised match at the start of play into a rout.
Trailing by 60 runs on first innings, South Africa was bundled out for 121 in its second, losing its last six wickets for 31 runs on a deteriorating pitch that aided the spinners.
It was South Africa's third lowest total against India.
Ace spinner Harbhajan Singh, who opened the bowling in the second innings to demonstrate the dominance of spin, snared 4-44 and part-time offbreak bowler Virender Sehwag claimed a career-best 3-12, leaving India with an easy victory target of 62.
India sprinted to 64-2 to spike South Africa's hopes of winning its second test series on Indian soil in eight years.
South Africa had posted 265 in its first innings and India responded with 325.
"It was a team effort, Harbhajan has been superb in the entire series and the part-timers also bowled well in this test,'' said India's debutant skipper Mahendra Dhoni, who was elevated to the captaincy in place of injured Anil Kumble.
"It was a tough series and losing the toss put us on the back foot.''
Ganguly, named man of the match after a solid 87 in the first innings, said "chasing anything over 150 would've been difficult.''
South Africa captain Graeme Smith said India's spinners kept a tight leash on the scoring.
"India were clinical throughout, they deserved their victory,'' said Smith, not allowing the loss to reduce the satisfaction of drawing the series.
"It's a good effort to perform well as we have against a very good Indian team in its backyard,'' said Smith.
"Indian spinners made strokeplay very difficult, it would've been interesting if we had set them a target of around 150.''
India started day three with a stubborn tenth-wicket stand of 46. Resuming at the overnight score of 288-9, Shantakumaran Sreesanth (29) and Ishant Sharma (14 not out) defied South Africa's attack for nearly an hour.
|Harbhajan Singh celebrates the wicket of |
Hashim Amla [GALLO/GETTY]
Sreesanth survived two edged shots that went through the slips cordon before their resistance finally ended when Sreesanth was caught by Ashwell Prince at short cover off left-arm spinner Paul Harris (3-101).
Sreesanth then consolidated India's advantage when he trapped opener Neil McKenzie (14) lbw.
Singh then had Hashim Amla (0) caught bat-pad by short leg Wasim Jaffer to send India to lunch on a high, but the game still appeared in the balance.
It was when Sehwag snared Jacques Kallis (15) and skipper Graeme Smith (35) in the space of 13 deliveries, leaving South Africa tottering on 88-4, that the hosts took control of the test.
Kallis struck just one boundary in a painstaking 1-1/2 hour knock intended to shore up South Africa's innings, but fell to Jaffer's second catch at forward short-leg, this time off Sehwag.
Sehwag, having seen Prince dropped with the next delivery, soon struck a decisive blow by clean bowling Smith around his legs. Smith, whose first boundary came off his 67th delivery, had hung on grimly for 2-1/2 hours.
The innings crumbled thereafter. A.B. de Villiers (7) became Singh's second victim when he was snapped by V.V.S. Laxman at short square-leg, before paceman Sharma dismissed Mark Boucher (5) and Morne Morkel (0) in one over.
Prince (22 not out) saw wickets tumble at the other end as Singh removed Paul Harris (0) and Dale Steyn (7) before Sehwag wrapped up the innings by dismissing Makhaya Ntini (0).
Eager to end the match Sunday, and match the three-day win that South Africa enjoyed in the second test, India lost Sehwag (22) and Jaffer (10) before Rahul Dravid (18) and Ganguly (13 not out) took it to the target.
India's players will now turn their minds to the lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition which starts this week.
South Africa's next tour is to England in July.