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
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
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