The draw in Adelaide (2012), the awe-inspiring record win at Perth (2008), the Amla-Steyn demolition in Nagpur (2010), the Ahmedabad destruction (2008), the innings victory at the Oval (2012), the bowling masterclass at Galle (2014), the Smith double in Dubai (2013), the Duminy miracle at Melbourne (2008) – these were some of the many timeless overseas Test wins that South Africa managed over the last decade. They have easily been the most consistent Test cricket team of our time, and in this era of ruthless home conditions and doctored tailor-made pitches, this team has traveled the world and pitched their flag in the most hostile conditions.
Finally, though, on a crumbling pitch that had even the home team struggling, their run came to an end where they had recorded one of those famous initial wins – Nagpur. This time, they had no Dale Steyn to breathe fire, no Graeme Smith to grit it out and no Vernon Philander to shine the light. 2-0 down with a match to go, the South Africans now have an opportunity to start afresh, and build a new legacy under captain Hashim Amla. They have not been disgraced in any way, but considering the fact that they’ve been one of the most fair hosts in recent memory (they’ve lost series to Australia twice and drew with a bunch of others), they will feel hard-done and forced into defeat.
Let’s take an elevated statistical look at the situation:
9: Number of years since South Africa last lost a series away from home before India (Sri Lanka in 2006) – the second longest such unbeaten run ever
6: Number of days of Test Cricket (over three Tests) it took for their run to end in India
4: Number of individual fifties in three Tests so far, two of which have been scored by AB de Villiers
6: Number of Indian fans who expected this result after a one-sided limited over series, culminating with a record thrashing in Mumbai
13: Number of years since an entire Test match failed to produce a half century from either side (India v/s NZ, Hamilton, 2002), where Rahul Dravid top scored with 39
15: Number of away series SA remained unbeaten for since 2006
17: Ashwin’s bowling average this series so far
10: Faf du Plessis’ average in this Test series so far
12: Number of wickets Ashwin took at Nagpur alone
13: Number of South African batsmen dismissed for less than 10 at Nagpur over both innings
9: A cumulative decrease in batting averages of the South African top order batsmen this series.
40: Highest score in the Nagpur match, of Murali Vijay. Only Dravid’s 39 has been a lower individual score for a Test since 1900
55: Number of wickets taken by R. Ashwin in 2015 in Tests
50: Number of runs scored by Faf du Plessis this series
3: Number of days the Delhi Kotla Test is expected to last, making for a total of 9 days of test cricket over four Tests
6: Number of wickets Morne Morkel took on the turner at Nagpur
0: Number of wickets Ishant Sharma took on the same wicket
0: Probability that Varun Aaron will replace Ishant in the next Test