Pune Test: Kohli, bowlers hand India unassailable 2-0 lead in series

Pune, Oct 13 : Virat Kohli scored a record-breaking double hundred, which was his career best score in the game’s longest format, while the bowlers fired in unison as an all-round India outmuscled South Africa in every department to win the second Test by an innings and 137 runs on Day 4 here on Sunday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

India, thus, recorded their 11th consecutive Test series win at home, the most by any side eclipsing Australia, who had held the record with 10 straight series wins in their own backyard as Kohli and Co. kicked off their home leg of the World Test Championship with a bang.

The Proteas were skittled out for 189 after being asked to follow-on as they were all out for 275 at the end of Day 3, replying to India’s mammoth 601/5 in the first essay.

Coming into this game with a 1-0 lead, India were never in any sort of trouble from Day 1. Mayank Agarwal (108) scored a second successive Test hundred as Cheteshwar Pujara (58), vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (59) and Ravindra Jadeja (91) scored delectable half centuries.

Jadeja was unfortunate to miss out on a hundred as he struck a 225-run partnership with Kohli for the fifth wicket. But it was the Indian captain who virtually took the game away from a South Africa side still in transition after the retirements of A.B. de Villiers and Hashim Amla.

Kohli amassed 254 runs from 336 balls with the help of 33 fours, in a marathon inning that lasted nearly eight hours and broke a slew of records as he became the Indian batsman with the most number of double tons to his name, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag who both had scored six double tons.

In their reply, South Africa were ripped apart by Ravichandran Ashwin, who returned best figures of 4/69 while Umesh Yadav, making a comeback into the playing XI and included in the series in place of injured Jasprit Bumrah, took three wickets.

Left arm spinner Keshav Maharaj top-scored with 72 and along with Vernon Philander (44 not out) fought hard in the end but it was too little too late. Skipper Faf du Plessis also scored 64.

Asked to follow on, Maharaj (22) and Philander (37) dug deep and proved hard to beat till tea on Day 4.

But once Umesh had Philander caught behind after tea, it all fell apart as the pacer returned impressive figures of 3/22 with Jadeja also picking up three wickets as Ashwin nabbed two.

In the second dig, opener Dean Elgar top-scored for South Africa with 48.

It was also a fantastic Test for wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha who took two brilliant catches in both innings to remove Theunis De Bruyn on both occasions off Umesh.

On Day 3, Saha, rated as one of the best stumpers in the world, flew to his right to grab the ball with both hands right in front of first slip to complete a stunning catch and he repeated his heroics in the morning session on Sunday, as the 34-year old took a acrobatic one-handed diving catch to leave his teammates awed.

It was Kohli, though, who continued to shatter record books. The ace batsman, arguably one of the best in all three formats, hadn’t scored a century this year but atoned for his dip with a knock of sheer brilliance.

During the course of his innings, Kohli also went past Bradman to become the player with the most 150-plus scores as Test captain. While Bradman had achieved the feat eight times in his career, Kohli has now done it nine times so far.

He is also the only Indian to smash 40 hundreds in international cricket as captain and is now just two tons away from surpassing Ponting’s tally of 41 Test tons as captain with the most hundreds in international cricket.

He also surpassed Dilip Vengsarkar’s tally of 6,868 runs to climb to the seventh position in the list of players with the most runs for India in the longest format of the game.

Kohli also rolled his arms and bowled the first over after tea on Day 4 to sum up India’s mood and utter dominance in their own lair.

Both the sides will next meet for the final time in the rubber in Ranchi for the third Test, starting October 19.

Brief scores: 1st innings: India 601/5d (Virat Kohli 254 not out, Mayank Agarwal 108, Ravindra Jadeja 91, Ajinkya Rahane 59, Cheteshwar Pujara 58; Kagiso Rabada 3/93; South Africa 275 (Keshav Maharaj 72, Faf du Plessis 64, Vernon Philander 44 not out; R Ashwin 4/69, Umesh Yadav 3/37).; Following on: South Africa 189 (Dean Elgar 48, Temba Bavuma 38; Umesh Yadav 3/22, Ravindra Jadeja 3/52)

/IANS

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