Cape Town: India’s captain Rohit Sharma expressed his pride and satisfaction after leading his team to a remarkable seven-wicket victory over South Africa in the second Test at Newlands on Thursday. The win helped India draw the two-match series 1-1, after they had suffered a humiliating innings and 32-run defeat in the first Test at Centurion.
Rohit, who scored a crucial 79 in the first innings and 34 not out in the second, said at the post-match presentation ceremony that it was a tough challenge to play in South Africa, but his team showed great character and resilience to bounce back from the Centurion debacle. He said, “It is always difficult when you come to this part of the world, but we are proud of our performance outside India. South Africa always presents a challenge for us, and we can feel proud to come here and win.”
He added, “We would have liked to win the series, but we came back very well, especially our bowlers. We had some plans and the players executed them well. We knew this match would be short, we knew runs would matter, so it was very important to get the first innings lead.”
India bowled out South Africa for a paltry 55 in the first innings, thanks to a sensational spell of six for 15 by fast bowler Mohammed Siraj, who ripped through the hosts’ batting line-up in the first session of the first day. India then scored 205 in their first innings, taking a vital 150-run lead. South Africa fought back in their second innings, scoring 274, setting India a target of 125 to win. India chased down the target with seven wickets in hand and more than a day to spare.
Rohit praised Siraj for his outstanding performance and also lauded the efforts of Jasprit Bumrah, who took five wickets in the match, and the debutants Mukesh Kumar and Prasidh Krishna, who provided good support. He said, “Siraj’s spell was such that you do not get to see it often. He bowled with great pace and accuracy and exploited the conditions well. Credit should be given to Siraj and Bumrah, and also to Mukesh and Prasidh, who supported them as much as they could.”
He also acknowledged the contribution of Dean Elgar, the South African opener, who played his last Test match and scored a century in the second innings. He said, “He is such an important player for South Africa. He has been a thorn in our flesh for a long time. We talked about taking his wicket, and how to get him out early. We appreciate what he has done for South Africa. He had a great career, best wishes for the future.”
Elgar, who captained South Africa in this Test in the absence of injured Temba Bavuma, said he was disappointed with the result but proud of his team’s performance in the series. He said, “It was a difficult match for us. We were outplayed by India in the first innings, but we showed some fight in the second innings. The series was a draw, but the young players can learn a lot of things from this experience.”
He added, “I would have liked to do better in this match. Still proud of the Centurion’s performance, where we dominated India. It was nice to contribute to the win with a hundred. It would have been great if it had been a three-Test series, but we have to accept the schedule.”
Elgar and Bumrah shared the ‘Player of the Series’ award for their consistent performances throughout the series. Elgar said, “Bumrah is a world-class player, he deserves this award. He is a tough competitor, and he always challenges you as a batsman. Glad I won’t have to face him again.”