India record shortest ever Test win to level series in South Africa

Indian captain says pitches in his country are unfairly criticised after the match in Cape Town ends in record time.

Rohit Sharma, left, and Shreyas Iyer of India celebrate winning the second test by 7 wickets against South Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
Rohit Sharma, left, led India to their fifth Test win in South Africa in a record-breaking match at Cape Town [Halden Krog/AP]

India’s cricket captain Rohit Sharma has lashed out at critics of Indian pitches after his side recorded the quickest ever win in a Test match by beating South Africa by seven wickets in four-and-a-half sessions of the five-day match.

India’s win over hosts South Africa on a seaming surface with variable bounce at Newlands saw them end the two-match series in a 1-1 draw following the hosts’ win in the first Test.

Speaking to reporters after the win at Cape Town on Thursday, Rohit called for a review of how pitches are rated as he claimed India receive undue criticism.

India’s victory made the Test match the shortest ever in history in terms of balls bowled in a win, after the visitors set the tone when they bowled the home side out for 55 before lunch on day one, largely helped by player of the match Mohammed Siraj, who took six wickets for 15 runs in the first innings.

The next best of any of Markram’s teammates in either innings was 15.

Rohit described the conditions as dangerous, but added he had no problem playing on such surfaces as long as it was accepted that Indian pitches will turn from day one.

“I don’t mind being on pitches like this as long as everyone keeps their mouth shut in India and no one is talking about the pitches there,” Rohit told reporters.

“Yes it is dangerous, but you come here (South Africa) to challenge yourself and you must face up to it.”

Rohit believes there is inconsistency in the way match referees rate pitches in different countries.

“In India, when it turns on day one, people say, ‘Oh, there is a puff of dust’. We need to stay neutral, especially match referees. I would love to see how the pitches are rated.

“I still can’t believe the [Cricket] World Cup final pitch [in Ahmedabad] was rated below standard. A player [Australia’s Travis Head] got a hundred there. They must rate pitches based on what they see, not based on countries.”

Rohit added there should be no difference in the rating of a pitch based on spin or seam on day one.

“We know pitches in India will spin but people don’t like it because it turns from ball one. But if it seams from ball one, that is OK? That is not fair.”

Low-scoring spectacle

Meanwhile, South Africa’s stand-in captain Dean Elgar bowed out of Test cricket on the losing side but said he finished what had been a “bit of a journey” with “amazing memories” as an international cricketer.

After 23 wickets fell on the first day, the second morning turned into a battle between Aiden Markram and India’s Jasprit Bumrah.

Apart from Markram, who hit 106 off 103 balls in South Africa’s second innings of 176, batsmen struggled throughout the match on a pitch with pace, seam movement and uneven bounce.

The Indian bowler took six for 61 – and was denied the wicket of Markram when the batsman, on 71, edged a drive and wicketkeeper KL Rahul could not hold a catch above his head.

Markram defied a pitch on which the next highest individual score was 46 by Virat Kohli in India’s first innings but South Africa were bowled out for 176 runs in their second innings by lunch. That gave India a tricky chase of 79 on a pitch of variable bounce.

Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal scored a quickfire 28 off 23 balls, with six boundaries. He was caught at long leg off Nandre Burger.

Rohit survived two dropped catches, and was unbeaten in the end with 17 not out.

Kagiso Rabada bowled Shubman Gill for 10, and finished the short series with 11 wickets.

Marco Jansen nicked off Virat Kohli for 12 runs when India were four runs away from only their fifth win on South African soil. Five balls later, Shreyas Iyer hit a boundary to seal the historic victory.

Source: News Agencies