Centurion: South Africa continued to frustrate the Indian bowlers with skipper Faf du Plessis playing a steady knock to take the hosts’ lead past the 250- run mark at tea on the fourth day of the second cricket Test, here today.
Du Plessis was batting patiently on 37 off 122 balls as South Africa reached 230 for seven in 82 overs in their second innings in the post lunch session. At the break, Kagiso Rabada (0 not out) was giving du Plessis company after Vernon Philander’s (26 off 85 balls) dismissal as South Africa extended their overall lead to 258 runs.
In the post lunch session, the proceedings slowed down as India were happy to not conceded too many runs. Du Plessis and Philander too happy to play the waiting game as they did not go many scoring shots. The duo added only 31 runs in 15 overs in just over an hour’s play since lunch. Overall, their partnership for the sixth wicket yielded 46 runs off 156 balls.
In the second hour of the extended session, Ishant Sharma (2/40) got the breakthrough when Philander pulled a short delivery to Murali Vijay. Two overs later, Keshav Maharaj (6) was also caught behind off Ishant as South Africa were reduced to 215 for seven. But Du Plessis and Rabada managed to see out the last six overs of the session. Surprisingly, India did not take the second new ball after 80 overs.
Even more surprisingly, Mohammed Shami (3/42) bowled only one over -– the last one -– in the entire post lunch session. Earlier, pacer Mohammad Shami’s three-wicket burst reduced South Africa to 173 for five, taking their lead to 201 runs at lunch.
This was after news broke that Virat Kohi has been fined 25 per cent of his match fees and received one demerit point for breaching Level 1 of the ICC Code of Conduct during the final session on day three. The Indian skipper had protested animatedly to on-field umpires Paul Reiffel and Michael Gough that the ball was too wet when play resumed after a brief rain break. He later pleaded guilty to the charge.
Starting from overnight 90 for two, AB de Villiers (80 runs, 121 balls, 10 fours) and Dean Elgar (61 runs, 121 balls, 8 fours, 1 six) took their third wicket partnership to 141 runs. Jasprit Bumrah (2-47) and Ishant (0-29) started the proceedings for India.
While Bumrah attacked the batsmen more, Ishant was content on keeping the run-rate down. It allowed an easy first hour for the batting pair as they added 54 runs until drinks. Their 100-stand came off 167 balls. South Africa crossed 100 in the 33rd over and then 150 in the 43rd. The turn-around came when Shami (3-38) was introduced into the attack and he immediately started getting the ball to reverse.
First, he induced an edge off de Villiers in the 42nd over with the batsman surprised by extra bounce and was caught behind. Four overs later, Elgar pulled a short ball off Shami straight to KL Rahul at deep square leg. The fielder fumbled but managed to hold on.
In the 47th over, Rahul fumbled again at backward short leg off R Ashwin (0-57) and this time dropped du Plessis (on 6). It was a tough chance but he managed to get a full hand to it on diving to his right. In the very next over, Parthiv Patel misjudged another chance as Shami induced an edge off Quinton de Kock (12), with the keeper moving in the opposite direction to the ball.
It didn’t prove too costly, even as de Kock hit three consecutive boundaries, all of edges and then edged again off Shami with Patel holding on this time.
South Africa had lost three wickets for 19 runs in the space of 39 balls and were reduced to 163 for five.