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1st Test: Talking points from India's 108-run win over South Africa at Mohali

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 7 November 2015, 19:16 IST

India's tumultuous campaign at home finally got some reprieve following a thumping 108-run win against South Africa in the first Test at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium in Mohali on 7 November.

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If the wicket at the Wankhede stadium in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) left the hosts bemused, the slow pitch at Mohali which saw the five-day game end in just three days would have surely irked the visiting South Africans.

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A total of 694 runs were scored for the loss of 40 wickets in a span of just three days at Mohali. The spinners, as expected, did the maximum damage while claiming 30 wickets. Also, the third day of the match witnessed the fall of 18 wickets as India emerged victorious to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Here's a look at the talking points from the 1st Test:

01
Ashwin's dream run continues
Ravichandran Ashwin Test_AFP

Ravichandran Ashwin's absence was dearly missed by India during the ODI series that was won 3-2 by the Proteas. Returning for the Test series with a lot expected from him, Ashwin proved why he is India's premier spinner. The Tamil Nadu bowler bamboozled the Proteas who had no answer for his spin bowling.

The 29-year-old registered a five-wicket haul to steal Dean Elgar's thunder in the first innings and claimed three more scalps in the second to end the match with a tally of eight wickets in total. Apart from being influential for the hosts in the match, Ashwin also brought up a personal achievement when he became the fastest Indian bowler to reach 150 wickets.

Ashwin achieved the feat in a mere 29 Tests, only behind England seamer Sydney Barnes (24), Pakistan's bowling legend Waqar Younis (27) and Australian leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmett (28). Out of his 150 wickets, Ashwin has notched up 100 scalps in India followed by 21 apiece in Australia and Sri Lanka. The offie has also picked five wickets in Bangladesh and three more in England. He has only played one wicket-less Test in South Africa.

02
Elgar's surprise on Day 1
Dean Elgar1_PTI

After beating India on their own turf in both T20 and ODI series, the Saffers were handed a major boost on the opening day of the 1st Test by their part-time spinner Dean Elgar. The 28-year-old made full use of the slow wicket to strike consistently as the Proteas managed to pull the rug under India's feet in the first innings.

Elgar claimed four Indian scalps while conceding a mere 22 runs to give an early advantage to the visitors in the first innings. After a productive session before lunch on Day 1, Elgar was brought back into the attack in the 38th over where he tricked Rahane into playing an expansive drive.

With the Indian middle-order struggling, Elgar got the better of Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra to complete his dream run of the day. But, after a notable performance in the first innings, Elgar failed to pick even a single wicket in the second innings.

03
Jadeja's remarkable comeback
Ravindra Jadeja_PTI

Ravindra Jadeja has been missing in action for Team India since 2014. The left-hander played his last Test against England in Manchester on 7 August 2014, with forgetful figures of 1/36 and a mere four runs in the match. However, his majestic performance for Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy this season, had propelled him into India's playing XI for the Test series.

Bowling in tandem with Ashwin, the left-hander picked up three wickets in the first innings. While Ashwin hogged the limelight for his fifer in the first innings, Jadeja showcased his bowling prowess in the second innings to register his own five-wicket haul while conceding a mere 21 runs.

The Indian all-rounder got the better of Vernon Philander, Hashim Amla, Dane Vilas, Simon Harmer and Imran Tahir as South Africa failed miserably to chase 218 runs on a slow wicket. Jadeja finished the game with eight wickets in his kitty to cement his position in the Indian team.

04
De Villiers' lone battle
AB de Villiers_PTI

After bundling India out for 201 runs, the South Africans were hoping for a fairly decent performance, if not exceptional, by their star-studded batting line-up. If the slow track didn't help South Africa's cause, the poor shot selection by their batsmen only made them look more vulnerable.

At a time when the Indian spinners were running amok in the first innings, the Proteas desperately needed someone to rescue their innings. And as expected, AB de Villiers stepped up his game to counter the rampaging spin trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Amit Mishra.

The right-hander scored 63 runs in the first innings while wickets kept tumbling at the other end. De Villiers also added a crucial 34 runs alongside Simon Harmer for the seventh wicket to cut down India's lead. However, the South African batsmen failed to repeat his success in the second innings before falling prey to Mishra for 16 runs.

05
Vijay, Pujara all the way
Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay_PTI

With Shikhar Dhawan failing miserably in the first innings, opening batsman Murali Vijay lead from the front to anchor the Indian innings. The right-hander played a gritty knock of 75 runs to guide India to a fighting first innings total. Cheteshwar Pujara, too, added 31 runs in an otherwise mediocre btting performance by the home side.

It was the second-wicket pair of Vijay (47) and Pujara (77) in the second innings, which played sensible cricket with a 86-run stand after Dhawan (0) lost his wicket second time in a row without bothering the scorer.

A marvellous diving catch by substitute fielder Temba Bavuma denied Vijay, who got his 1000 Test runs in his 12th game, his much-deserved fifty. With the slow wicket making life tough for the batsmen, Pujara continued his resolve to notch up his seventh half-century in Test cricket. The duo were pivotal in helping India post a target of 218 runs for the visitors.

First published: 7 November 2015, 19:16 IST
 
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.

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