In a session where fortunes had changed, India reclaimed control with Quinton de Kock’s hit barely a few minutes before Tea ending a 72-run fifth-wicket stand between de Kock and Temba Bavuma.
The hosts were reduced to 109 for 5 at the close of the second session on Day 3 of the first Test at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Tuesday, thanks to an early blow by the pacers.
Despite losing Jasprit Bumrah to an ankle sprain shortly after lunch, Mohammed Shami and Mohammad Siraj kept South Africa on the back foot with tight lines that tested pace and mobility.
After losing skipper Dean Elgar for 1 before lunch, Aiden Markram and Keegan Petersen followed on the other side of the session break, both getting cleaned up by Mohammed Shami.
Rassie van der Dussen, however, didn’t have enough time to settle in before being undone by Siraj, whose strong delivery dragged him forward and struck the edge at slip. The hosts were down to 32 for 4 after the fourth strike, but Bavuma and de Kock smartly rescued them out of danger.
It helped that Shardul Thakur, who had been thrown into the assault, couldn’t maintain the same level of pressure that Siraj and Shami had. South Africa took advantage of the pacer’s opportunities to score quickly. De Kock also stepped out on a couple of occasions against R Ashwin’s offspin.
However, late in the second session, he sliced a delivery back on to his stumps, allowing India to reclaim the initiative.
The visitors experienced a stunning collapse earlier in the day, spurred by the pace combo of Kagiso Rabada and Lungisani Ngidi, losing seven wickets for 55 runs on Day 3 and were dismissed for 327 runs.
As much as the South African bowlers posed a strong challenge to India, the visitor batters, particularly overnight batsmen KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane, were equally to blame for their defeat.
In the morning session, de Kock grabbed four catches behind the stumps, while Ngidi’s stats of 6 for 71 were his second-best in Tests, after only his performance against India in their last match at Centurion.
With a seriously damaged right ankle, Bumrah returned to the field near the end of the practise, but he didn’t bowl. In his followthrough, he had fallen awkwardly on the pitch’s edge, hurting his ankle in the process.