Hindustan Times (Delhi)



JOHANNESBU­RG: A seven-run firstinnin­gs lead is probably the best indicator of the thin difference between India and South Africa on a seaming, bouncy Wanderers pitch in the third Test.

Taking a cue from Cheteshwar Pujara, Hashim Amla junked class for survival and helped South Africa stay alive, with cameos from nightwatch­man Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander. But this Test is too close for call with three days to go after Murali Vijay and KL Rahul --- who came in after Parthiv Patel was asked to open --- took India 42 runs ahead at stumps.

Like India, only three South Africa batsmen reached double figures in the first innings. The most orthodox batsman, like Pujara, never looked settled despite facing 121 deliveries. Some shocking shots were played but the batsmen probably can argue that they didn’t know how the pitch would behave. It was pure joy for genuine seam bowlers like Bhuvneshwa­r Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah who would love to carry this pitch everywhere they go.

Especially Bumrah, who bagged his maiden five-wicket haul and provided the support Bhuvneshwa­r needed after dismissing opener Dean Elgar and AB de Villiers. Bumrah’s enterprise also allowed India to mask a somewhat inconsiste­nt bowling that didn’t lure South Africa enough with fuller deliveries in the right channel.

Amla rode his luck and India’s misery with the review system to score 61, but Bumrah dismissed him with a delivery on leg stump that he didn’t look to keep down. That triggered a slide that saw South Africa lose their last four wickets for 26 runs.

They seemed to have taken control of the situation in the

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