India secured a convincing seven-wicket victory over South Africa at Newlands in the second test, leveling the two-match series at 1-1 in a match that concluded within five sessions. In a pursuit of a modest target of 79, India finished their second innings at 80 for three, strategically countering a challenging wicket that still favored the bowlers.
Rohit Sharma led the charge, remaining unbeaten at 16, while Shreyas Iyer contributed 4 runs. The wickets of Yashasvi Jaiswal (28), Shubman Gill (10), and Virat Kohli (12) were the only setbacks for the Indian side.
The brevity of the match, completed in 642 balls, raised eyebrows, setting a new record for the shortest-ever test match with a decisive winner, surpassing Australia’s 656-ball victory over South Africa in 1932. Reflecting on the achievement, India’s captain Rohit Sharma commented, “Obviously it’s a great feat, but having said that we had to learn from whatever mistakes we made (in the first test). The bowlers still have to put the ball in the right areas and the boys got rewarded for it. When you come to this part of the world, it’s always difficult, but we take pride in our performance outside of India.”
South Africa, winning the toss and opting to bat, faced a dire situation in their first innings, getting dismissed for a mere 55 on a record-breaking opening day. However, they made a comeback by restricting India to 153 in their first innings, a phase where the visitors lost six wickets without adding a single run, an unprecedented occurrence in 147 years of test cricket.
Jasprit Bumrah emerged as the star performer for India, claiming six wickets for 61 runs. His exceptional line and length, coupled with poor shot selection from the South African batsmen, played a crucial role in dismantling the home side. The hosts were bowled out for 176 in their second innings just before lunch on the second day, setting the stage for India’s triumph.
Aiden Markram provided a glimmer of resistance for South Africa, scoring a rapid 106 despite challenging conditions. His century, achieved in 99 balls, was an impressive display of skill. However, Markram’s aggressive approach cost him dearly, as he mistimed a delivery from Mohammed Siraj, resulting in a skied shot caught by Rohit Sharma at mid-off. Markram’s innings included 17 fours and two sixes.
Reflecting on the match, South Africa’s retiring captain, Dean Elgar, expressed disappointment over their poor first innings with the bat. “A tough one for us, we were positive coming into the game, but the first innings with the bat… India bowled well and used the conditions to a tee,” he remarked. Elgar defended his decision to bat first, stating, “It (the wicket) was a bit of a ripper, to the naked eye it looked a nice one, but it played different to what everyone thought it would play. I still don’t regret my decision to bat first, but they outskilled us in the first session.”
The series, now leveled at 1-1, has seen a reversal of fortunes for both teams. South Africa dominated the first test, winning by an innings and 32 runs, while India showcased resilience and adaptability to claim victory in the second test. As the cricketing world reflects on this intriguing series, the focus will undoubtedly shift to the upcoming matches, with anticipation building for more competitive and enthralling encounters between these two cricketing giants.