Team India ended 2021 on a high by breaching the South African Fortress, Centurion. The Virat Kohli-led squad defeated the hosts by a margin of 113 runs and clinched the first test.
The Boxing day test match was dominated by the Indian team right from the word go. KL Rahul shone with his hard-fought 123. Sizable contributions from the rest of the batting unit made sure that India posted a par score, after winning the toss, on a ground that has traditionally assisted the hosts for decades.
Rain was a major concern leading up to the test match. After dominating the proceedings on the opening day, rain interrupted on the second day, as it got washed out.
With already a day lost, the possibility of either team winning the game seemed more feeble. Besides, the prediction of rain on day five also added to this apprehension. Although in a commanding position after an impressive beginning, team India lost the plot for a brief while as the early minutes of day three witnessed a mini-collapse. Team India got bundled up for 327 before lunch on day three.
South African batters never looked at ease. The Proteas lost four of their frontline batters early, leaving the option of ‘follow on’ as a viable possibility.
The 72-run partnership between Quinton De Kock and Temba Bavuma was the only positive for the hosts after the first innings, as the team got bowled out up for a mere 197 runs, giving India a huge first-innings advantage.
Mohammad Shami was at his best, as he made sure that India chipped in wickets at regular intervals. The pacer, with his fifer, also reached the milestone of 200 Test wickets. South African lower order tried to add a few runs but couldn’t manage to get more than 197 in their first innings.
Team India started their second innings with a healthy lead of 130 runs. South Africa needed some special effort in all the departments to make a strong comeback in the game, which by then was singularly dominated by the Indians.
The WTC finalists were not as clinical in the second innings as in the first. Although each batter added to the total, team India couldn’t add more than 174 runs in the second innings.
With almost four and a half sessions left in the match, the South African team had an Everest of 305 to climb, to register a victory. A total of that magnitude has never been chased in Centurion.
Jasprit Bumrah, who was missing for the most part in the first innings due to a twisted ankle, led the attack from the front. Captain Elgar held on from one side and tried to slow down the innings. However, he could not control the loss of wickets on the other side, as South Africa was left with only six wickets to spare on the last day.
Considering the form of Indian seamers and the nature of the pitch, the challenge on-field wasn’t as stern as off it. Rain was predicted on the afternoon of day five of the test, and that was seen as the only potential threat to India’s chances.
The rains were at bay as the Indian bowling attack struck down SA middle order. Bavuma and Elgar started consciously by adopting a more aggressive approach, but inevitable collapse did strike, as all of the Indian bowlers who bowled chipped in the remaining six wickets.
The victory is historic for more than one reason. This victory is the first time an Asian team has won a Test match at Centurion. Virat Kohli became the first Indian captain to win two boxing day test matches (MCG,2018).
Team India started the year with a victory down under and ended it on a high by winning the 2021 Boxing day affair. KL Rahul was adjudged as the Man of the Match for his match-changing 123 in the first innings.