Virat Kohli was keen to highlight the impressive efforts of his bowlers after India completed a resounding 203-run victory over South Africa in the first Test at Visakhapatnam.
Any hopes the Proteas had of batting out the final day were effectively ended before lunch as they slumped from 11-1 to 70-8, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja each striking three times in the morning session with the latter’s wickets all coming in one over.
Debutant Senuran Muthusamy (49 not out) and Dane Piedt (56) delayed the inevitable with a defiant ninth-wicket partnership of 91 but South Africa were still bowled out for 191 as Shami returned to complete a five-wicket haul.
There was also a landmark wicket for Ravichandran Ashwin on Sunday. The off-spinner’s dismissal of Theunis de Bruyn was his 350th in Tests and came after he had returned 7-145 in the Proteas’ first innings.
India’s opening batsmen played key roles in their win, with Mayank Agarwal compiling 215 across the first two days and Rohit Sharma making 176 and 127 in a stunning first Test at the top of the order.
Although South Africa replied to India’s 502-7 declared with 431, the hosts’ second-innings score of 323-4 laid the platform for a dominant win.
“When you put 500 on the board you are always ahead of the game,” said Kohli in the post-match presentation. “I think Rohit was outstanding in both innings, Mayank along with him in the first innings, brilliant.
“The batting heroes were obvious, but I think the bowlers had it tougher in this game, to keep going with the conditions, so they deserve a lot of credit as well.”
Kohli described the performances of Jadeja and Ashwin as “really, really good”, before praising Shami for his superb final-day showing.
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“Shami has been a strike bowler for us in the second innings consistently now,” the captain added. “If you see all his four- and five-wicket hauls, they invariably come in the second innings when the team needs it. [When] the ball is reversing a bit, that’s his strength.”
Man of the match Rohit revealed he had been well-prepared for his first experience as a Test opener.
“A couple of years ago it was communicated to me that you might open at some stage, so I was prepared for it,” he explained.
“Even in the nets whenever I was not playing a Test match, I would practice with the red ball, with the new ball. In my mind I was pretty much ready to have that opportunity any time.
“I wouldn’t say it came to me as a surprise, I was ready for it. It was a great opportunity for me at the top of the order, doing it for the first time, so I just wanted to enjoy the moment. At the same time, I’m really thankful to the coach, captain and the selectors for giving me that opportunity.”