October 22, 2019 / 5:24 AM / a month ago

India sweep series, Rohit reinvents himself in tests

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India completed a 3-0 series sweep against South Africa on Tuesday to consolidate their lead in the World Test Championship race, with Rohit Sharma providing the icing on the cake by successfully reinventing himself as a test opener.

South Africa, made to follow on for the second straight test in the series, had managed to escape a defeat inside three days on Monday, but their final two batsmen lasted only two overs on Tuesday before they were shot out for 133 in Ranchi.

Bowling the second over on day four, debutant spinner Shahbaz Nadeem dismissed Theunis de Bruyn and Lungi Ngidi in successive deliveries to seal India’s emphatic victory by an innings and 202 runs.

De Bruyn, playing as a substitute to opener Dean Elgar, who had suffered a concussion on Monday, made 30 before being caught behind off Nadeem before South Africa’s innings folded in bizarre fashion.

Ngidi swung hard at the next delivery, hitting Anrich Nortje on the wrist at the non-striker’s end and Nadeem did not even need to move as the ball looped up for him to take a simple catch.

India, who beat West Indies 2-0 in their first series under the new World Test Championship, top the table with 240 points after five wins in a row.

“Amazing, you guys have seen from the outside the way we’ve been playing and the way we have just come of age as a side,” India captain Virat Kohli said after the victory.

“Making things happen on pitches that don’t seem to offer much is something ...I’m really proud of.”

Once South Africa had conceded a first innings lead of 335 runs, and were made to follow on for the second straight test in the series, their defeat was always on the cards against an Indian team who had secured their 11th home series win in Pune.

“It’s a remarkable team and it’s tough to beat them at home,” South Africa captain Faf du Plessis conceded after the defeat.

“I thought they were ruthless in every aspect of the game.

“They were better than us in the spin department, fast bowling department, batting department, even the fielding. We were dominated pretty much all through the test series.”

India will be particularly pleased about Rohit’s effortless transition into a test opener after struggling lower in the batting order in his stop-start test career.

The limited-overs stalwart, the only batsman with three 200-plus scores in one-dayers, was adjudged man-of-the-match for his 212, his maiden test double hundred, in India’s first innings total of 497-9 declared.

Rohit also bagged the man-of-the-series award for his 529 runs from four innings, which included three 100-plus scores.

“I’m thankful to the management for the opportunity at the opening slot,” Rohit said after collecting his awards.

“I can take a lot of positives about how to counter the new ball. The new ball is always a threat, and to be able to counter that will be a huge positive. I can take my game forward from that.”

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Alex Richardson

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