How Bumrah, Siraj helped India pull off a heist in shortest Test match

Cape Town pitch comes in for scrutiny as Aiden Markram’s century stands out 

The winning feeling... for now (photo: @JayShah/X)
The winning feeling... for now (photo: @JayShah/X)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The ‘Cape Town Heist’ will certainly give Indian skipper Rohit Sharma reason to smile after quite sometime, but then, not even he would have bargained for a strange contest like this. The ‘shortest’ Test in the 140-plus years of the format, which lasted just a little over four sessions of play (!) saw India complete a historic win at Newlands and end the series 1-1. 

The final frontier of South Africa may have remained unconquered for now, but India will surely take that after the humiliation of the first Test, and look to recover lost ground in the 2023-25 World Test Championship (WTC) cycle in the upcoming battles.

India have clawed up from a lowly sixth position in the world test rankings to top spot with 26 points, but the two-Test series has thrown up familiar questions about India’s batting in challenging conditions and an embarrassingly long tail, but for now, it was the much criticised bowling line-up which paved the way for a sensational win in one-and-a-half days. 

It was a contest which lasted all of 642 balls, providing the quickest result in Test match history — the previous one being Australia’s win over South Africa in 1932 (656 balls). It was just the 25th Test to be completed inside two days, and the first since Australia’s win over South Africa at the Gabba last summer. 

Blame it on player of the match Mohammed Siraj, all fired up in the first session of play on Wednesday when he ripped through the heart of the hosts’ batting line-up for a career-best six for 15, followed by the attacking lynchpin Jasprit Bumrah (6/61) on day 2 to ensure that India were left to get 79 for their first win at this venue.

And yes, that incredible meltdown by India’s lower batting order, when the last six wickets fell without a single run added to the board in a space of 11 balls, was also responsible for such a short duration.       

The dice may have rolled in favour of India, but there is no denying that the pitch was a monster to bat on thanks to its uneven bounce, where a batsman’s chance lay in counterattacking rather than gritting his teeth and be done in by a delivery with his name on it. Attack is precisely what Aiden Markram did on the second day as he scored an almost miraculous 106 with a strike rate of 102.91, with 80 of his runs coming off boundaries (17) and sixes (two). 

In a Test match which will be talked about for days for Siraj’s hostility and movement in the air and off the seam, Bumrah’s disconcerting bounce, Markram’s century, and Virat Kohli’s mini masterclass of 46 will also stand out for the batters. The South African attacked his way out of trouble on a pitch where the highest score of any of his teammates in either innings was 15. 

If there was any apprehension that there could even be the semblance of a twist in the tale in chasing 79, the Indian openers belted 11 runs in the opening over alone to reach the target in just 12 overs, soon after lunch. Yashasvi Jaiswal understood the need of the hour as he blasted six fours en route to 28 off 23 deliveries.

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