Delight for the vintage fans — Indian quicks outbowl South Africa's pace attack
As Umesh Yadav bowled a ripper of a bouncer to catch Quinton de Kock off guard and have him out caught by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha while trying to fend at it, was a cathartic moment for the vintage Indian cricket fans.
It was for this reason that Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar was literally left jumping with joy in the commentary box. "I cannot believe my eyes," Sunny G said, "an Indian pace bowler bouncing out a South African batsman."
It was quite an understandable reaction from an Indian opener who had weathered the storm against the West Indian and Australian quicks for decades and then had to see the agonising sight of the Indian spinners taking the new ball when the opposition's turn came to bat.
Two overs and nine minutes is all the Indian bowlers needed to snaffle the remaining two South African wickets and bag the third Test match by an innings and 202 runs, registering their maiden clean sweep against South Africa.
At the end of the three-match series, in which South Africa were completely outplayed by the hosts, the score line read 3-0.
Four years ago, when South Africa came to the Indian shores for another such Test series, the score line then too was 3-0. But the tracks then were tailor-made for the Indian spinners and turned square from day one.
However, this time around, South Africa can hardly make that excuse. Out of the 60 South African wickets to fall in the series, Indian seamers accounted for 26 wickets as opposed to 32 by the Indian spinners.
These are almost equal number of wickets despite the seamers bowling substantially less number of overs as compared to the spinners, which is why the bowling average for Indian pace bowlers at 17.50 is way superior than that of Indian spinners at 27.18. Even the strike rate of the Indian pace bowlers at 59.9 is almost double to that of the Indian spinners at 35.5.
Although the Indian pacers are more adept than their South African counterparts in the art of reverse swing and it is quite understandable given that they have been born and brought up on unresponsive Indian surfaces, their performance with the new ball was also miles ahead of the South African pacers.
Between overs 1 to 40, when the ball is relatively new, Indian bowlers picked up 38 South African wickets from 6 innings with them needing 37.9 balls for each dismissal. On the contrary, South African new ball bowlers were only able to take 5 wickets from 4 innings with each wicket coming after a long wait of 192 deliveries.
The dominance of the Indian new ball bowlers what such that the cumulative of all South African opening partnerships in the series lasted only 83 balls, with their average being a terrible 4.83.
South African pacers could only manage 10 wickets throughout the series at an average of 70.20 and a nightmarish strike rate of 131.7. This is in sharp contrast to the 26 wickets picked by the Indian seamers at 7.50 and a strike rate of 35.2.
Even the Protea skipper Faf du Plessis could not help but acknowledge the profound impact of the Indian quicks on the series. "The way the Indians pacers showed us - as a South African fast bowling attack - how to bowl, speaks a lot about them. The pace with which they bowled, the consistency they showed, outclassed us as a fast-bowling attack. There's a learning for us. When we play in the subcontinent, our style of bowling is not successful. We have to adapt to your style," du Plessis noted.
Gone are the days when India prepared dust bowls in home conditions to skittle out their opponents. Now the team prides itself in preparing fair wickets and possessing the bowling acumen for all conditions. This is the reason why Team India now holds the record for 11 successive Test series wins at home, the most by any team in Test history.