In the development stage, this Test South Africa victory statement at SuperSport Park becomes even more impressive.
As the shot played by Virat Kohli sailed over Marco Jansen’s head, Kagiso Rabada, airborne and horizontal against the sight screen, managed to get both hands to it. Time was suspended, breaths were held, and celebrations were momentarily halted mid-air. Upon Rabada’s descent with the ball in hand, Dean Elgar, positioned at long-off, raised both arms, and the cork popped amid the sizable SuperSport Park crowd. The fizzing and bubbling celebration ensued as Elgar and Rabada jointly hug-jumped into the Highveld air, signifying South Africa’s significant victory.
More than 13 years ago, the last time South Africa beat India by an innings at this ground, and since then, their record against India has been nine defeats, five wins, and three draws before this match. With only two matches in this series and facing an inexperienced South African team without Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi, India sensed a real opportunity, while South Africa recognized a genuine threat.
The pre-series emphasis on maintaining their home record highlighted South Africa’s reputation as a formidable side. Shukri Conrad, South Africa’s Test coach, stressed the significance of their victory, countering the hype surrounding other teams and players. He urged recognition for their own players’ achievements, with special mention going to Elgar and Rabada, whose celebration after the final wicket encapsulated the essence of the match.
Dean Elgar’s remarkable innings of 185 allowed South Africa not only to survive but thrive against a hostile Indian attack, batting just once. Conrad praised Elgar’s performance, likening it to the efforts of cricketing greats. Rabada’s match figures of 7 for 91 and his leadership in the bowling attack demonstrated both skill and maturity.
Younger players like Nandre Burger and David Bedingham received accolades for their impressive performances, adding depth to the team’s potential. Even Jansen, with a Test best of 84 and 3 for 36, showed signs of becoming the “genuine all-rounder” South Africa has been searching for.
Considering South Africa’s status as a Test team in development, their outstanding performance at SuperSport Park becomes even more commendable. As twilight set in and storm clouds burst, the team song echoed from the change room, reflecting the gusto usually reserved for series wins. While this series cannot be lost, the South African team has ample reason to exhale deeply and celebrate.