South Africa vs India 2018: Hashim Amla's dismissal on day four is SK Turning Point of the match
In what was one of the most riveting Test matches witnessed in recent times, India registered a truly memorable victory against South Africa at Johannesurg. The visitors' 63-run triumph helped maintain their unbeaten record at the iconic Wanderers Stadium.
When the fourth day's play began, South Africa needed 224 runs on a menacing surface which had already evoked immense scrutiny from various quarters. With nine wickets intact, the series was promising to end on a thrilling note. Containing the archetypal ebbs and flows of Test cricket, the penultimate day's action turned out to be a gripping affair.
While Mohammed Shami's stunning five-wicket haul and Jasprit Bumrah's unplayable delivery to spell doom for AB de Villiers may garner all the plaudits, Hashim Amla's dismissal proved to be the most defining moment in the match.
Elgar and Amla bat serenely
Contrary to popular perception, Elgar and Amla batted in a seemingly unperturbed manner during the first session of the fourth day. With the surface appearing to behave much better than in the preceding days, India's seamers found themselves toiling long and hard in search of the breakthrough.
While Elgar showed grit and determination to blunt the Indian bowlers, Amla punished the odd loose delivery without any mercy. On such a ferocious track, the elegant right-hander's calculated stroke-play vindicated his class as well as reputation in the traditional format.
Upon beginning the day's play at 17/1, the duo weathered the new-ball storm and put on a threatening partnership to raise South Africa's hopes of snatching an unlikely victory. Elgar and Amla added 119 runs for the second wicket before the pivotal moment in the game occurred.
Pandya stunner breaks obstinate partnership
At a time when India were desperately needing a wicket, Ishant Sharma delivered the all important breakthrough on the verge of the tea break. Targeting the stumps, he veered into the batsman's arc. Amla responded by unfurling his trademark flick shot.
Catch the highlights of Amla's dismissal here
However, Hardik Pandya produced a moment of magic to help his team claw their way back into the contest. He timed his dive to perfection and held on to a tough chance. The all-rounder's brilliant catch resulted in the tide turning in India's favour.
Shami special seals famous victory
Buoyed by Amla's wicket, India approached the game with a renewed sense of vigour. Jasprit Bumrah lifted their spirits further by removing the dangerous AB de Villiers. Getting the ball to lift sharply from the good length area, he left the star batsman in utter disbelief. The edge was settled in the safe hands of Ajinkya Rahane at gully.
Ishant's was rewarded for his perseverance as a low-keeping delivery flummoxed Faf du Plessis. Quinton de Kock's horrible form continued as a rapid ball from Bumrah trapped him in front. Then, it was time for Mohammed Shami to take over.
In a special spell of scorching pace, Shami delivered the killer blow. He reiterated his penchant for hitting the stumps and pinned South Africa's lower-order into submission. With momentum now firmly in India's hands, their spearhead sealed the deal by registering his third five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
Vernon Philander, Andile Phehlukwayo and Morne Morkel came in and perished to Shami's momentous spell. All three batsmen saw their stumps shattered by blistering fuller deliveries. Fittingly, he got the last wicket of Lungi Ngidi to complete an unforgettable triumph for India. While South Africa won the series, the victory in Johannesburg enabled the visitors to gain an immense amount of respect.