India finished off South Africa on Day 3 of the third Test match to clinch the Freedom Series comprehensively 2-0, with a match to spare.
The home team were utterly dominant in this match, as they have been throughout the series so far, and below are a few talking points to take from this third Test in Nagpur.
Enough with the pitch complaints already: Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis showed it was not an impossible wicket to play on with that partnership on Day 3, even if the pitch had slowed down. Yes, it was a difficult wicket, and yes, it was not easy to score on. But c'mon, this is called "Test" cricket for a reason, what is the point if there is no testing of the batsmen.
The willow-wielders are so soft nowadays, that the moment they get a difficult wicket, especially one that turns, complaints rain out. Whatever happened to showing your skills and actually proving to everyone that you are there to bat, hang around, not just to swing that willow and hit boundaries. That is well and good in limited-overs cricket, but there is nothing wrong with a Test match wicket skewing a little in the bowler's favour.
Would you rather watch this Test match in Nagpur or the one that finished recently in Perth, where Australia and New Zealand scored 1672 runs in total -- 1183 of those in the first innings—with only 28 wickets falling over five days?
This wicket was erring on the side of too advantageous for the bowlers, but it was nowhere near as bad as some have called it.
Batting: And from that pitch, came the batting issues again. Neither team covered themselves in glory in that department in this Test match, and the same could be said of the one in Mohali as well. Most of the wickets that fell in Nagpur was off aggressive shots. Owing to the amount if limited-overs cricket that is played, the batsmen seem to find it near-impossible to curb those attacking instincts and play according to the situation. Had they done that, this match would not have ended with the highest individual score being 40. C'mon batsmen – step up already!
R Ashwin: Boy is he at the top of his game. Virat Kohli said he is the best spinner in the world at the moment, and if the conditions are remotely skewed in his favour, he becomes near-unplayable, as he showed in this third Test, picking up 12 wickets. That off-spinner is coming from his hand beautifully, and more of the same please will say Kohli and all the India fans.
South Africa's run ends: Nine years -- South Africa were unbeaten in away series since 2006. That run finally ended, and unfortunately for the No.1 team in the world, without even putting up a fight. South Africa just haven't shown up in this Test series, almost consigning themselves to a loss the moment it became clear the pitches would be spin-friendly.
There was a semblance of a fight in that Amla and Du Plessis partnership, but those two and AB De Villiers need to show why they are some of the most feared batsmen in the world in Delhi.
Virat Kohli growing as captain: Kohli has, at times, looked quite unconvincing as a captain, making a few scratching-the-head-here decisions. But the more Test matches he skippers, the better he seems to be getting. Yes, the conditions have helped, but there is we-shall-not-give-up-or-panic feeling in the team, instilled definitely by the captain.
The India test team is now definitely Kohli's, and that bodes well for the future.
Umpires: Hats off to Ian Gould and Bruce Oxenford. They were brilliant in this Test match, getting pretty much every decision right in difficult conditions – because when it is difficult for the batsmen, it is difficult for the umpires as well. Gould also brought a bit of personality into this Test match, and the two should be given great credit for doing their jobs exemplarily.