TELFORD VICE, Delhi
IT took more than 47 hours of play and 4043 deliveries that had, between them, yielded 1893 runs and claimed 93 wickets. But finally there it was – a century in the test series between India and SA.
Ajinkya Rahane claimed the honour by driving Kyle Abbott straight and true for four on the second morning of the fourth test at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi on Friday.
Some two more hours and 145 balls later, Abbott featured in another noteworthy event by crashing a delivery into Ishant Sharma’s back pad to end India’s first innings.
With that Abbott earned figures of 5/40 – the first five-wicket haul by a fast bowler in these four matches.
Finally, too, the pitch can get out of the spotlight. Let it be known that the surface at the Kotla is about as good as it gets in this country.
Hence, Rahane and Abbott were rewarded for working harder than they would have to in other conditions to achieve something similar.
Rahane’s 127 was his fifth century in 39 innings but his first in India, not least because of his 22 tests he has played only five on home soil.
He has sprinkled his other hundreds around some of the game’s most storied venues: the Basin Reserve, Lord’s, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and P. Sara Oval in Colombo.
SA will not want to know that India have not lost a test in which Rahane has scored a century.
They will be more eager to hear that the only other time in his five tests that Abbott has claimed five wickets in an innings – on his debut against Pakistan in Centurion in February 2013, when he took 7/29 in the first innings and completed a match haul of 9/68 – SA won by an innings inside three days.
Some of that will be familiar in the context of a series in which two matches have not gone to a fourth day, but SA will feel like they have achieved a victory of sorts simply by surviving the third day’s play at the Kotla on Saturday.
And who knows – there may yet be another century for Rahane and another five wickets for Abbott to be had before this match, and this series, limps into the sunset.