The magnificent Table Mountain instead witnessed how the young and relatively inexperienced South African team stamped its power in style on the fourth day of the final Test at Newlands on Friday afternoon. Under clear skies, chasing 212 for victory, they won the Test by seven wickets and with full brilliance.
Keegan Peterson, the South African ‘KP’ who is to have them, led the way. Uncertainly placed at 101-2, and the ball was still new, the hosts started the fourth day cautiously. There was enough bounce in the wicket and opportunities kept coming.
Destiny abandoned India and the rest was eaten by Peterson’s magnificent and determined 113-ball 82. He turned at the crease, saw a sitter tirelessly slip by Pujara on Jaspreet Bumrah’s ball and came very close to the edge of the moving ball.
But it continued. And the moment he found a place to settle, some gorgeous drives, punched on the front and backfoot, slowly drove away from the session, day and match visitors. Peterson eventually left and Temba Bawuma Entered to finish the game in style with Rasi van der Dussen.
Dean Elgar, whose own contribution to the series remained flawless, jumped for joy and so did the rest of the South African team. Scenes in and around the dressing room speak to what this team has just achieved.
Indian shoulders fell down. They won the toss and lost better in retrospect, the batsmen went shorter in the game, the plaintiffs were unlucky on occasions and the pitch – unfortunately for them – only began to relax when they were praying.
The state of the game during the first and second seasons was such that even the inside edge did not work, the overturning added insult to the injury, a sitter was dropped and even Kohli’s men did not get a chance to verbally distract the opposition. Peterson, Bavuma and Van der Dussen kept their heads down and went to work.
The same reasons India lost in Johannesburg returned to Cape Town – lack of enough runs on the board. However in the second innings of the third Test, the consistently poor form with the bat worsened. Apart from Rishabh Pant’s century and the extra given by South Africa, the rest of the Indian batting order contributed only 70 runs. That is where India lost the Test.
One question to be asked in the long run is whether India’s pace attack in the second and third Tests lacked a sting. He did not lack the sting as much as he lacked precision during a continuous period. Perhaps this is the difference between how South Africa bowled and against their opponents. After the third day’s play, bowling coach Paras Mhambre missed the “right areas” as outlined and Kohli admitted after the Test.