2nd Test: India set 240-run target for South Africa on a tricky Johannesburg pitch
- India were bowled out for 266 in their second innings
- Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen took three wickets apiece
- Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane built a 111-run partnership for India
India set a 240-run target for South Africa on a tricky Wanderers wicket in Johannesburg to win the second Test and the series after being bowled out for 266 in their second innings on the third day of the match on Wednesday.
Under-fire senior batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane added a lifeline to their respective careers with crucial half-centuries but South Africa came back strongly in the second Test by bowling out India after the lunch break.
The match now hangs in balance again after Rishabh Pant's indiscreet shot put India in a spot after Pujara (53 off 86 balls) and Rahane (58 off 78 balls) in a rarely seen counter-attacking mode added 111 runs in just 23.2 overs.
Having understood that time is indeed running out for them, both the batters decided not to try and hang around as they looked for scoring opportunities. The half volleys were driven imperiously and the width was dispatched disdainfully square off the wicket.
When Marco Jansen bowled one short, Rahane uncorked the slash over point for a six. Pujara's 50 came off 62 balls while Rahane's half-century was completed in 67, signalling that they were trying to show 'intent' and put the team's interest above everything else. They hit 18 fours and a six between them.
There was a time when India were 155 for two with a lead of 128 and it seemed that South Africa's propensity to bowl too short or too full was proving to be damaging.
Rabada fired for South Africa
But then Rabada, South Africa's best exponent of fast bowling since Dale Steyn, produced a piece of inspiration that is so synonymous with the traditional format.
Rabada found that ideal back of length where there is a crack and it landed there to deviate sharply, taking Rahane's edge into keeper Kyle Verreynne's gloves.
Pujara then got one from Olivier in the off-stump channel to be plumb despite lunging far forward.
However, the man who disappointed one and all was Pant, who first got a snorter from Rabada that hit his helmet viser when he tried to defend awkwardly and then he charged like a raging bull trying to convert a short ball into half volley. The result was an edge to keeper.
The legendary Sunil Gavaskar called it "irresponsible batting and said that no excuse and nonsense of playing natural game" can be provided when people like Rahane and Pujara were "taking blows" for the team.
Resuming at 85 for two, India called the shots with Cheteshwar Pujara (53) and Ajinkya Rahane (58) striking half-centuries.
Once they were dismissed by Kagiso Rabada, the Indian innings seemed to have lost momentum with Rishabh Pant falling without opening his account.
However, Hanuma Vihari (40 not out) and Shardul Thakur (28) defied the Proteas attack to swell India's overall lead.
Pacers Rabada (3/73), Lungi Ngidi (3/43) and Marco Jansen (3/67) shared nine wickets between them.
If India manage to defend the total, they will seal their maiden Test series triumph in South Africa.
Brief Scores: India: 202 and 266 in 60.1 overs (A Rahane 58, C Pujara 53; K Rabada 3/73, M Jansen 3/67, L Ngidi 3/43).
South Africa 1st innings: 202.