NAGPUR, February 9 – South Africa thumped India by an innings and six runs despite a fighting century by Sachin Tendulkar on the fourth day of the first Test on Tuesday to go 1-0 up in the two-match series.Fast bowler Dale Steyn (3-57) and left-arm spinner Paul Harris (3-76) shared six wickets to bowl out India for 319 in their follow-on at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium in Nagpur.
Harris picked the key wickets of Tendulkar (100) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who suffered his first Test defeat as captain since taking charge in 2008.
It was India’s third defeat by an innings margin at home since 2000, all of those coming against South Africa.
The South Africans now need just to draw the second and final Test beginning in Kolkata on February 14 to reclaim their top world ranking from India.
The emphatic win was set up by Hashim Amla (253) and Jacques Kallis (173), who helped South Africa post an imposing 558-6 declared before Steyn picked a career-best 7-51 to bowl out India for 233 in their first knock.
Steyn finished with a haul of 10 wickets for 108 runs while Amla was named man of the match.
"It has been an outstanding performance from the guys," said South African skipper Graeme Smith. "To win in India, you need lots of discipline and the guys have showed it.
"There were a few special individual performances but overall it was a good team effort. It is nice to have someone like Steyn. To run in like that and bowl as he did was amazing.
"Harris also bowled well, he is not a fancied cricketer but he knows his role and has come back well."
India’s lone resistance in the second innings came from Tendulkar, who smashed 13 fours in his 179-ball knock on the way to his 46th Test century.
Tendulkar, who hit two successive centuries during India’s 2-0 away Test win against Bangladesh, defied the South African attack for close to four and a half hours before being dismissed in bizarre fashion.
Tendulkar tried to sweep Harris but the ball bounced off his body, hit his elbow and fell onto the stumps. He watched the ball in disbelief before trudging back to the pavilion.
The batting ace shared 72 runs for the third wicket with Murali Vijay (32) and another 70 runs with Dhoni, who was caught at silly point after staying for 144 minutes at the wicket.
"We were completely outplayed," said Dhoni. "Kallis and Amla batted brilliantly. Steyn, the way he bowled, he was the best I have seen of him in the last two years.
"In India on a track like this, you hardly see such good conventional swing bowling. We are on the back foot now as they cannot lose the series from here. But we will try to fight back in Kolkata."
Resuming at 66-2 after being made to follow on, the hosts lost overnight batsman Vijay inside the first hour of play.
Debutant Subramaniam Badrinath (six) edged Parnell to Mark Boucher, who returned to keep wicket after missing the final session on Monday with a back strain.
After the dismissal of Dhoni for 25 in the post-lunch session, Harbhajan Singh hit a run-a-ball 39 with six fours and a six to provide some cheer to Indian fans before curtains were drawn on the innings.