India beat South Africa by 124 runs to win the third Test match at Nagpur’s VCA Stadium on Friday to clinch the four-Test series 2-0 and end the Proteas’ nine-year-long unbeaten streak, spanning 15 series, away from home.
The hosts began their march towards victory after managing to end a long, defiant partnership between skipper Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis.
The Proteas, who resumed after lunch at 105-4 chasing a target of 310, went to tea on the third day at 151-6 in their second innings on a dusty, deteriorating pitch.
After tea, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin struck on his first delivery with the new ball to trap JP Duminy leg before. Proteas keeper Dane Vilas was caught behind next to give Ashwin his 15th five-wicket haul in Tests and second of the match.
Pacer Kagiso Rabada was Ashwin’s sixth scalp, edging one to skipper Virat Kohli at second slip. Pacer Morne Morkel’s wicket was the last to fall, fittingly claimed by Ashwin, who ended the match with 12 wickets.
Amla and Du Plessis, who came together in the morning session after the fall of the fourth wicket at 58, defended for 46.2 overs to put on 72 runs for the fifth wicket. Amla negotiated 167 deliveries and du Plessis faced 152 balls, both making identical scores of 39 before being dismissed by leg-spinner Amit Mishra in the space of six deliveries before tea.
Amla, whose highest score in the series is 43, edged a catch to his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli at gully. In Mishra’s next over, du Plessis played over an attempted pull and was bowled.
At tea, JP Duminy was unbeaten on 15 and Dane Vilas was on two, with the tourists still 159 runs away from levelling the four-match series on a difficult batting wicket.
A target of more than 300 runs has been chased successfully just once on Indian soil — by the home team who made 387-4 to defeat England in Chennai in 2008.
Ashwin struck in the day’s fourth over when left-hander Dean Elgar edged a ball off the pad to Cheteshwar Pujara at silly-point after making 18.
AB de Villiers, the world’s top-ranked Test and one-day batsman, made nine during an uncomfortable 21-ball stay when he was deceived by a straight ball from Ashwin and was trapped in front of the wicket.
India won the first Test in Mohali by 108 runs, while the second in Bangalore was washed out by rain after the opening day’s play.
The final Test begins in Delhi on December 3.