Jasprit Bumrah snared two wickets at the
fag end of the fourth day of the first Test as India aim for a remarkable
victory against a rattled South African side at SuperSport Park, Centurion on
The home side would be praying for their
captain Dean Elgar’s dogged defiance and some rain on the final day on
Chasing a never achieved victory target of
305 at the Supersport Park, South Africa finished the day at 94 for 4 with
Elgar unbeaten on 52 after Indian batters caved in on a track with uneven
bounce, getting all-out for 174 in just 50.3 overs.
It was another failure for the seasoned
trio of skipper Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane but the
pacers again swung the match in India’s favour.
With 211 runs required and six wickets in
hand, an intriguing battle could be on the cards on the final day but the
Indian team would pray that forecast of a steady afternoon shower on Thursday
doesn’t come true.
Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen (11 off 65
balls) added 40 runs but more importantly batted for more than 22 overs as the
pitch looked like easing down a bit.
Just when the game looked like meandering,
Bumrah (2/22) went wide off the crease and got the ball to cut back late just
when Van der Dussen decided to shoulder arms thinking that it would go
And then at the stroke of stumps, a lethal
delivery knocked the stuffing out of nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj (8) to leave
the Proteas in complete tatters.
Even Mohammed Siraj (1/25) bowled one that
was angled in and moved away late taking Keegan Peterson’s (17) outside edge.
Aiden Markram was the first to be dismissed as he failed to take his bat away
from a Mohammed Shami (1/29) delivery that bounced a tad extra after landing on
the perfect upright seam.
The Indian bowlers would be aware that
there had been instances when they have failed to get the tail knocked off the
final day, the latest one being the Kanpur Test and here with rain set to be a
factor, they will be running against time.
However, it must be mentioned that the
cracks had widened and helped the South African pacers in the morning session
with some deliveries taking off from the back of the length.
The use of the heavy roller and the
Kookaburra getting old by the 15th over did work to South Africa’s advantage
but only for a limited period of time before the quality and skill-set of
Indian pacers found the opposition wanting.
Kohli, Rahane continue to disappoint
If there is one worry, it’s Pujara (16),
Kohli (18) and Rahane (20) playing some indiscreet shots while the others were
done-in by widening cracks that led to deliveries rearing up awkwardly from
short of length.
KL Rahul (23), Rishabh Pant (34) and
Ravichandran Ashwin (14) got snorters that grew big on them as Kagiso Rabada
(4/42), debutant Marco Jansen (4/55) and Lungi Ngidi (2/31) looked menacing
during the one and half sessions that the Indians batted.
South Africa have more than 140 overs to
score 305 but on this Supersport Park track, it will be a herculean task to
make a match of the target with highest successful chase here being 251 by
England back in 2000-01.
For South Africa’s batting line-up that
distinctly lacks class of bygone era, facing Bumrah, Shami and Siraj remains a
The Indian team certainly owes it to
openers on Day one and the ever-consistent fast bowling unit that has helped
them gain control of proceedings.
middle order failed
Otherwise, the middle-order has cut a sorry
picture and more so skipper Kohli, who is promising a lot with some delectable
boundaries but the propensity to drive anything pitched fuller outside the
off-stump is bringing about his downfall.
Young Jansen, who had impressed the India
skipper as a net bowler during their last tour of 2018, would certainly remember
his debut as he angled one across at fuller length enticing the skipper to go
for a drive.
Pujara once again played a lot of dot
deliveries and then tickled one down the leg-side to Quinton de Kock off Ngidi.
The most embarrassing of the dismissals was
Rahane’s after he had hooked and cover drove Jansen for a six and a four.
The first hook shot was off a bouncer above
his left shoulder and the second one was over his right shoulder at a slightly
lower height. He couldn’t check his pull-shot and holed out at deep square leg.
Had it not been for Pant’s
counter-attacking run-a-ball 34, India wouldn’t have gained the psychological
advantage of a target of 300 plus.