Petersen-inspired Proteas complete stunning series comeback to down top-ranked India at Newlands

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Keegan Petersen (Gallo)
Keegan Petersen (Gallo)

The Proteas have completed a stunning comeback against top-ranked India, cruising home to win the third Test at Newlands on Friday by 7 wickets to claim the series 2-1. 

SCOREBOARD | Proteas v India - 3rd Test

It is exactly the triumph South African cricket needed given the struggles of recent years, and easily the highlight of coach Mark Boucher's tenure so far. 

There was fight, passion, resolve and, most importantly, there were some hugely impressive individual performances from the Proteas that will go a long way towards convincing a largely frustrated supporter base that the national side is in a healthy shape and moving in the right direction.  

Having lost the first Test at Centurion, few gave the Proteas a chance of finding a way back into the series, but Dean Elgar's second-innings heroics at the Wanderers levelled matters before Keegan Petersen stole the show in Cape Town. 

The 28-year-old, playing in just his fifth Test, was a marvel to watch and he delivered a match-winning performance that one would expect from a far more seasoned player. 

In a cauldron of tension in what was his country's biggest Test day in recent memory, Petersen looked as composed as anyone on the fourth morning and he has easily been his side's most valuable batter in this match.

He was out for 82 to accompany his 72 in the first innings, and his rise has been one of the stories of the series and bodes well for the rest of the Test year.  

Watchful and sound on defence with an ability to punch and drive when it is overpitched or loose, Petersen stood up tall when his country needed him most.

He was dropped by Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip off Jasprit Bumrah when he was on 59* in what seemed to be India's last chance, but when he played on a delivery from Shardul Thakur, there was a glimmer of hope for the tourists. 

At that stage, South Africa were 155/3 needing another 57 for victory, but there was able resistance in the form of Rassie van der Dussen who dug in and played a crucially important knock of 41* off 95. 

After the drama late on day three around Elgar's lbw controversy, Virat Kohli and his charges felt hard done by once more when Van der Dussen survived a review for caught behind - the technology showed his bat scraping the pitch and there was not enough conclusive evidence to prove the edge - and it all added the the emotion of what has been an epic contest. 

Kohli wanted to win this desperately. 

This, in all likelihood, was his final chance to win a Test series in South Africa; something no India side has done before in what is now eight attempts. 

There was more frustration when Van der Dussen was given 'not out' lbw by umpire Marais Erasmus off Thakur after a huge appeal. 'Umpires call' in height was the DRS decision, with Kohli left shaking his head once more. 

South Africa needed another 41 after lunch, with India needing a miracle.

It was not to be for the visitors, and Van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma (32*) did the necessary with an unbeaten 57-run partnership to get over the line and secure a win that will go down as one of the most memorable in the history of Proteas Test cricket.   

Scores in brief:

India 223 (Kohli 79, Pujara 43, Rabada 4/73, Jansen 3/55) and 198 (Pant 100*, Kohli 28*, Jansen 4/36, Ngidi 3/21)

SA 210 (Petersen 72, Bavuma 28, Bumrah 5/42) and 212/3 (Petersen 82, Van der Dussen 41*, Bavuma 32*)

SA won by 7 wickets

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