RAVINDRA JADEJA led the charge with a five-wicket haul as India overpowered South Africa by 108 runs on the third day of the first Test at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on Saturday.
Chasing a target of 218 runs, the Proteas could only manage 109 in their second innings on the rapidly crumbling wicket before being all out. Jadeja had figures of 5-59 while Ravichandran Ashwin (3-39) also made good use of the conditions. Fast bowler Varun Aarun (1-3) and leg-spinner Amit Mishra (1-26) bagged a wicket each.
India, who had started the day at 125/2 in their second innings, were all out for 200 shortly after lunch. Imran Tahir (4-48) and Simon Harmer (4-61) spun a web around the Indian batsmen to grab four-wicket hauls.
But the Proteas could not rejoice for long as their batsmen struggled to come to terms with the copious turn and variable bounce. Jadeja struck the opening blow for India when he trapped Vernon Philander leg before with his first ball of the day. Ashwin justified India skipper Virat Kohli's decision to open the attack with spin bowlers when he dismissed Faf du Plesis in the very next over. The off-spinner unleashed a flighted delivery that straightened after picthing as du Plesis offered an easy catch to the slips.
The Indian spinners continued to dominate and the South Africans were in deep trouble when the in-form AB de Villiers went back to the pavilion shortly after skipper Hashim Amla's dismissal. De Villiers was fooled by the variable bounce of the rapidly deteorating wicket when a Mishra delivery kept low after pitching before crashing into the stumps.
Opener Dean Elgar was fighting valiantly at the other end. But Aaron finally put an end to his laboured innings with a short pitched delivery that troubled Elgar with its awkward bounce. The South African tried to steer it to the onside, but the ball took the leading edge to spoon up in the air as Kohli grabbed it at mid on.
Dane Vilas virtually gifted away his wicket with a horrendous misjudgement as he attempted to leave a Jadeja delivery only to see the ball hit the top of his off-stump. Stiaan van Zyl and Simon Harmer tried to produce a fightback with a 42-run stand but another wickedly spinning delivery from Jadeja put an end to the partnership.
Dale Steyn also did not last long as he tried to smash Ashwin out of the park but only managed to find Murali Vijay at long on. An Indian win was only a matter of time from then and Jadeja completed the formalities by trapping Tahir leg before with a fullish delivery.
Earlier in the morning, Harmer and Tahir sliced through the Indian middle and lower order to leave the hosts struggling at 185/8 in their second innings at lunch. India were 202 ahead at lunch, with Wriddhiman Saha batting on eight. Overnight batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was the highest scorer for the Indians with 77.
India started the day in a steady manner before part-time seamer Stiaan van Zyl sent back Virat Kohli when the Indian skipper attempted a drive only to offer an edge to Vilas behind the stumps. Tahir got the second breakthrough for South Africa soon after with his first ball of the day when he had Pujara caught by Amla in the slips. Pujara hit one six and half a dozen boundaries during his stay at the middle.
Ajinkya Rahane survived only nine balls before Temba Bavuma took a fine catch at forward short-leg to give Harmer his first scalp of the day. Harmer then dismissed Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra in quick succession to reduce the hosts to 182/7. Jadeja was trapped leg before while Mishra was caught at square-leg as he went for a pull shot. Ashwin pushed India's lead past the 200-run mark, before Tahir found his outer edge with the last ball before lunch as Amla pulled off another fine effort in the slips.