In­dia pile on pain

In an abysmal test se­ries for the Proteas, all that’s left to hope for in this fi­nal en­counter with In­dia is the slim chance of a fight­ing draw

CityPress - - Sport -

An un­bro­ken stand of 133 be­tween cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli and Ajinkya Ra­hane stretched In­dia’s lead to 403 against South Africa on the third day of the fourth and fi­nal test in Delhi yes­ter­day. Kohli (83 not out, 154 balls, 10 fours) and Ra­hane, who fol­lowed his first in­nings cen­tury with 52 not out (152 balls, five fours) put on an un­bro­ken 133 for the fifth wicket in 49.5 overs.

With two full days to play, the only de­ci­sion Kohli has to make is whether to de­clare overnight or give him­self the time he needs to com­plete his cen­tury. He cer­tainly has enough time to fol­low the lat­ter op­tion.

The Proteas had their mo­ments, with Morné Morkel at last get­ting the re­ward he de­served, with two wick­ets in his first four new-ball overs to have In­dia 8/2.

There was an­other dou­ble break­through to make the score 57/4 in the 32nd over, but even then, In­dia’s over­all lead was al­ready an im­pos­ing 270 runs.

There­after, it was a bat­tle of at­tri­tion as In­dia scored 190 for four in the 81 overs that were pos­si­ble be­fore bad light made its daily in­ter­ven­tion.

Morkel took three for 29 in 17 overs, while Im­ran Tahir, who bowled the most overs in the day (21), took the other wicket to fall.

The fact that In­dia could only score at 2.34 per over is a clear in­di­ca­tion that the cur­rent In­dian lead is out of the Proteas’ reach. They do, how­ever, have the in­spi­ra­tion of pre­vi­ous fourth-in­nings rear­guard ac­tions. To fin­ish the tour with a fight­ing draw is some­thing worth striv­ing for.

“We threw ev­ery­thing at them this morn­ing, but they bat­ted in­cred­i­bly well,” said Proteas pace­man Kyle Ab­bott, who did not mind In­dia bat­ting on fur­ther.

“To be quite hon­est, the longer they bat, prob­a­bly the hap­pier we are, be­cause more overs are taken out of the game.

“I thought they’d prob­a­bly have a crack at us tonight, maybe the last hour or so. But they want to drag it out.”

Mu­rali Vi­jay (3) was the first man out, al­though he was rather un­lucky, as he was ad­judged to have gloved a su­perb short ball through to wick­et­keeper Dane Vi­las. How­ever, re­plays showed that the ball came off Vi­jay’s arm guard.

Ro­hit Sharma (0) was out first ball when he had his off stump pegged back by a full Morkel de­liv­ery that straight­ened off the pitch be­fore beat­ing Sharma’s de­fen­sive prod.

Shikhar Dhawan (21) and Chetesh­war Pu­jara (28) stead­ied the in­nings with a third-wicket part­ner­ship of 45 be­fore Morkel re­turned to the at­tack to bowl Dhawan with a su­perb yorker.

Leg spin­ner Tahir bowled Pu­jara with a top spin­ner that kept a touch low as South Africa started to make in­roads into In­dia’s bat­ting line-up.

But Kohli and Ra­hane bat­ted sen­si­bly as they blunted South Africa’s at­tack be­fore set­ting about build­ing an unas­sail­able lead.

Ravin­dra Jadeja told re­porters, re­fer­ring to the hosts’ first in­nings lead: “We bat­ted well in the first in­nings; they folded cheaply. I think 213 is a big mar­gin.

“As the match pro­gresses, this wicket is go­ing to de­te­ri­o­rate. We are in a strong po­si­tion.”

– Sport24 and Su­per­sport.com

PHOTO: TSER­ING TOP­GYAL / AP

DE­MO­LI­TION JOB In­dia's bats­man Ajinkya Ra­hane puts on a good show in the test against SA yes­ter­day in New Delhi, In­dia, while Proteas wick­et­keeper Dane Vi­las stands guard

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