India registered a series-levelling seven-wicket victory against South Africa in the shortest game ever played in Test history. The match could not last for even two days despite both the sides coming to bat twice on the surface of Newlands, Cape Town — the venue for the game. With the pitch offering additional bounce to pacers, all the batters, barring Virat Kohli and Aiden Markram, failed to impress. South Africa were bundled out for 55 runs in the first session while India were bowled out for 153 in reply.
In their second innings, South Africa could post only 176, setting a 79-run target for the guests, which they achieved in 12 overs.
This made it the shortest Test match-ever (in terms of ball bowled) with a result. However, the pitch caught the attention of critics and questions were raised over the nature of the surface as the game ended in the second session of the second day.
South Africa great Dale Steyn also slammed the curators for preparing such a pitch.
“Why we so scared of cracks? Think Sydney, Perth. Cracks so wide you can park a car inside them, and yet they always get to days 4 and 5! Pointless a test being over so fast you don’t even see a hint of a crack. Pitches deteriorate over the days, let it happen. Two day tests are not Test matches,” wrote Steyn on X, formerly Twitter.
Why we so scared of cracks?
Think Sydney, Perth. Cracks so wide you can park a car inside them, and yet they always get to days 4 and 5! Pointless a test being over so fast you don’t even see a hint of a crack.
Pitches deteriorate over the days, let it happen. Two day tests are…
— Dale Steyn (@DaleSteyn62) January 4, 2024
This came after Rohit Sharma’s interesting analysis on the pitch.
“We all saw what happened in this Test match and how the pitch played. I honestly don’t mind playing on pitches like these. As long as everyone keeps their mouth shut and don’t talk too much about Indian pitches,” Rohit Sharma said.
“Because you come here to challenge yourself. Yes, it is dangerous. It is challenging. So, and when people come to India, it is again pretty challenging as well. Look, when you are here to play Test cricket, we talk about Test cricket, the ultimate prize, Test cricket being the pinnacle and stuff like that. I think it’s important that we also stand by it.”
Bumrah (6/61 in 13.5 overs), the master practitioner of fast bowling, knocked the stuffing out of South Africa’s middle-order in a menacing morning spell though Aiden Markram (106 off 103 balls) fought like a lone ranger on a burning deck to take South Africa to 176 in 36.5 overs at stroke of lunch on day two.
A paltry target even on the toughest of tracks wasn’t exactly a tall order and young Yashasvi Jaiswal (28) threw his bat around before skipper Rohit Sharma (16 not out) completed the formalities in the company of Shreyas Iyer (4 not out off 6) in just 12 overs.
This was India’s first victory at Newlands in seven attempts and one that would be remembered for the hostility exhibited by two Indian fast bowlers – Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, who produced a career-best six-wicket haul to bowl out South Africa for 55 in the first innings.
The series-levelling win gave Rohit the bragging rights of being only the second skipper after Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2010-11) to draw a series in the ‘Rainbow Nation’.
However, South Africa remains an unconquered territory for India, who have not been able to win a Test series in the country.
It was the shortest Test match ever in terms of overs bowled, bettering the previous best that involved Australia and South Africa at the MCG way back in 1932.
A total of 106.2 overs were bowled in this match while 109.2 overs were bowled in that 1932-match which Australia won. Eerily, South Africa’s first innings had lasted for 23.2 overs, just like this game.
(With PTI Inputs)
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