At the end of the fourth day’s play, the score read 35/3 with Cheteshwar Pujara (11) and Parthiv Patel (5) at the crease. The visitors need another 252 to win this one with seven wickets in the bag. It will be a crucial first hour for both teams on the fifth morning as they will look to grab early advantage and set the tone for the rest of the day. Pujara will have to play out of his gut to take the Indians home in this one.
After bundling out South Africa for 258 in the second essay - thanks to Mohammed Shami (4/49) and Jasprit Bumrah (3/70) – India came out to bat with three and a half sessions to get the runs. Despite starting on a cautious note, India opener Murali Vijay was the first one to become a victim of the variable bounce on the fourth evening as one from Kagiso Rabada almost skid through to take the bottom edge of Vijay’s bat and crash into the leg stump.
The score read 11/1 as the sparse crowd at the SuperSport Park went berserk. KL Rahul left soon after with the score on 16 as he almost gave catching practice to Keshav Maharaj off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi. With Rahul (4) gone, it was Virat Kohli’s turn to join Cheteshwar Pujara in the middle. But the variable bounce did Kohli (5) in as well, with Lungi picking his second one. The DRS couldn’t save Kohli as that was plumb. It couldn’t have been a better end to the day for the hosts than seeing the India skipper back in the hut. Luckily for India, Parthiv Patel took some blows and fought it out to ensure that no further damage was done.
Earlier, it was two innings of complete contrast that helped South Africa reach 258 in their second essay. While AB de Villiers hit a classy 80 off 121 balls with 10 boundaries during his 156 minute stay at the crease, skipper Faf du Plessis showed his dead bat skills as he batted for 222 minutes, played out 101 dot balls to finally score 48 off 141 balls with four hits to the boundary. Du Plessis missed out on a well-deserved fifty when a slower one from Jasprit Bumrah gripped on the wicket and took the inner edge of the bat to land straight into the hands of the bowler.
Du Plessis though had two escapes, on 6 and on 46, but then that takes nothing away from his determination to stay put in the middle even as he faced three quality spells of fast bowling. The first one came from Shami, the second one from Ishant Sharma and the third one from Bumrah. Unfortunately for Ashwin, even though he did bowl 29.3 overs, he managed to pick only one wicket and gave away 78 runs. Ishant was pretty impressive in the afternoon session as he finished with figures of 2/40 from his 17 overs.
The morning session was a perfect trailer to how the day would pan out as the first hour went to the South Africans and the second hour to India. De Villiers and Dean Elgar started confidently and looked to stay positive in the morning as they kept building on the partnership that started with the score on 3/2. While de Villiers was happy to play some attacking shots, Elgar waited for the bad balls to put away.
Having tried all his options, Kohli finally turned to Shami and the man came up with a brilliant spell to remove de Villiers off the first ball of the spell, then Elgar (61) caught by KL Rahul in the deep off a bouncer and then Quinton de Kock (12) after giving three edges in the same over. Finally, Parthiv Patel held onto one as Quinton walked back with the score on 163.
While Parthiv has been a complete disaster behind the wicket, what was surprising was Kohli’s decision to keep his best bowler on display in the first session – Shami – away from the bowling crease till the fag end of the session.
Centurion TestCheteshwar Pujaraindia south africa 2nd testIndia-South Africangidisa vs indSouth Africa vs India 2018virat kohli
First Published: January 17, 2018, 8:46 AM IST