NAGPUR: Taking full advantage of a turning track, spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja ripped apart the South Africa batting line up as India bundled out the Proteas for just 79 runs, their lowest-ever score against the hosts in the third Test here today.
Off-spinner Ashwin grabbed 5 for 32 and left-arm spinner Jadeja snapped up 4 for 33 on day two of the match. Leg- spinner Amit Mishra, brought late into the attack, finished with 1 for 9.
India, who have taken a handy 136-run lead, took lunch at 7 for no loss. Openers Murali Vijay (5) and Shikhar Dhawan (2) were the unbeaten batsmen at the break.
The visitors lost eight wickets this morning after resuming at the 11 for 2, in one and a half hours’ batting, to be bowled out for their lowest score against India – at home or overseas – beating the earlier ignominy of 84 all out in Johannesburg in December, 1996.
South Africa’s previous lowest score in a Test in India was 105 in 1996 at Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium.
Jean-Paul Duminy, let off twice off Ashwin, top-scored with 35 in 65 balls before being dismissed – taken out by Mishra for his only wicket.
Off-spinner Simon Harmer came up with the next best score of 13 in a pathetic and clueless batting display that also saw their main hope A B de Villiers and captain Hashim Amla dismissed for a duck and 1 run respectively.
In the morning the visitors plunged headlong into trouble on viciously turning track by losing three wickets inside five overs to be at a pathetic 12 for 5.
Ashwin sent back overnight unbeaten batsmen Dean Elgar, who chopped the ball on to his stumps, and rival skipper Hashim Amla in the space of three balls in successive overs as the score advanced by just one run.
Elgar was packed off without any addition to his score off the fifth ball of the morning. Amla (1) tried to sweep the off-spinner and was caught at slip as the ball hit his glove, hit the back of his bat, and went to Ajinkya Rahane off wicket keeper Wridhiman Saha’s shoulder.
But the biggest blow came in the very next over when A B de Villiers, the Proteas’ great hope to escape from the spin web, was committed to play a leg-side shot to a ball from Jadeja that turned sharply, stopped on the batsman and the resultant ballooning catch was gleefully accepted by the bowler himself by running to his right.
In 17 balls the back of the batting had been broken. A brief revival ensued when Duminy, the best visiting batsman on view in negotiating the difficult pitch, and Faf du Plussis, took the score to 35 before the latter lost his patience and went for a wild heave off Jadeja only to miss it and get bowled off stump.
Things could have gone worse had the edged catch by Duminy been accepted by Indian skipper Virat Kohli off Ashwin when the left-hander was on 13.
Ashwin was unfortunate not to get the wicket of the nervous-looking rival wicket keeper Dane Vilas when Saha missed a difficult leg-side stumping chance.
Saha also let off Duminy on 21 when the batsman edged Ashwin as he stood up a bit early and the ball hit his leg and the catch went past a diving slip fielder Rahane too.
Vilas, looking totally uncomfortable, was out to a beauty from Jadeja as the ball turned sharply across his defensive bat and knocked the off stump to leave SA at 47 for 7.
Duminy, who had started off with a four and a six off Ashwin and Jadeja, later smacked the left-arm spinner for another straight six and the first hour's play saw the visitors move to 65 for 7, an addition of 54 runs in 17 overs.
Simon Harmer was bowled through his legs with a carom ball by Ashwin that pitched outside the leg stump and turned in, Duminy was trapped leg before by leg spinner Mishra and last-man Morne Morkel gave a tame return catch to the off spinner to help him complete his 31st Test five-wicket haul.