India skipper Virat Kohli said Sunday the team’s “hunger” to keep improving has led to their record 11th-straight Test series win at home after outplaying South Africa by an innings and 137 runs.
South Africa were dismissed for 189 after following-on in the final session of day four in Pune, as the hosts took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Paceman Umesh Yadav and spinner Ravindra Jadeja took three wickets each as India went past Australia’s previous record of 10 straight series wins on home turf and consolidated their number-one position in the world Test championship.
Kohli set up the win in the second match with his unbeaten 254 — a record seventh double-century for the star batsman — in India’s 601 for five declared, but the captain lauded the team effort.
“We are lucky to have the group of players we have in the last three-four years. It’s amazing to see that hunger and passion for all the guys to keep improving,” man of the match Kohli said after the win.
“Looking at the larger picture of the Test championship, every game has value so we’re not going to take our foot off the gas in the third Test. No one’s going to relax at any stage, that’s a guarantee.”
Ravichandran Ashwin struck twice in the morning session after the tourists started their second innings trailing by 326.
Ashwin had skipper Faf du Plessis — who promoted himself to number four in the batting order — caught behind for five with wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha holding on to a juggling catch.
The off-spinner soon got opening batsman Dean Elgar caught for 48 as South Africa slipped further.
Paceman Ishant Sharma struck with his second ball of the day to trap Aiden Markram lbw for nought.
Markram had a long discussion with Elgar over whether to review the on-field call but decided not to, only for the replays to suggest the ball would have gone over the stumps.
The Proteas were dismissed for 275 at the end of day three in response to India’s 601-5 declared, 127 short of the follow-on.
India have not lost a home series since 2013.
– ‘Weak mindset’ –
Du Plessis admitted Kohli’s knock and India’s mammoth total made the tourists play catch-up after the hosts elected to bat first.
“The way India batted, especially Virat with 250, it takes a lot of mental toughness. Two days in the field can wear you down,” said du Plessis.
“Especially that second evening, the batsmen were a bit weak in the mindset. From then it’s playing catch-up. We were found wanting in this Test match.”
Du Plessis said Kohli’s innings was a lesson for any batsman. “He was too good. The hunger stood out, it was great value for us as batters,” he added.
South Africa put up some resistance in their first innings with Maharaj, who made 72, and Philander with 44 not out putting on 109 runs for the ninth wicket to frustrate the Indian bowlers.
Ashwin broke the stand with Maharaj’s wicket and then got last man Rabada to return figures of 4-69.
The match will also be remembered for Kohli going past Don Bradman’s tally of 6,996 runs.
Kohli, who now has 7,054 runs from 81 Tests, put together crucial partnerships including a 225-run fifth-wicket stand with Jadeja, who made 91, to extend India’s dominance.
Opener Mayank Agarwal also contributed with a century.
The two teams now head to Ranchi for the final match starting October 19.