Johannesburg: South Africa reached 6/1 at stumps losing opener Aiden Markram on the opening day of the third and final cricket Test after a collective effort from their bowlers skittled out India for a paltry 187 at the New Wanderers Stadium here on Wednesday. Opener Dean Elgar (4) and night watchman Kagiso Rabada (0) went back undefeated when the umpires dislodged the bails for the day.
Returning to the team after being dropped from the second Test, paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar got the early break of Markram (2) caught behind by stumper Parthiv Patel. Earlier, on a wicket that promised good carry and bounce for the faster bowlers, India won the toss and surprisingly elected to bat to find only three of their batsmen — Cheteshwar Pujara (50), skipper Virat Kohli (54) and Bhuvneshwar (30) — reach double figures.
For the Proteas, it was a collective effort from the likes of Morne Morkel (2/47), Vernon Philander (2/31), Kagiso Rabada (3/39), Lungisani Ngidi (1/27) and Andile Phehlukwayo (2/25).
It was once again a disappointing story for the Indian batsmen, barring Kohli and Pujara who struck contrasting fifties to bail out the team from another dismal start which saw the opening duo of Murali Vijay (8) and Lokesh Rahul (0) succumbing with just 13 runs on the board. Pujara, known for his dogged approach, consumed as many as 54 balls to get off the mark in the morning session and in the company of Kohli defied the odds, to take the team to 45/1 at the lunch break.
Kohli, on the other hand looked fluent with his trademark drives, bringing up his 16th Test half century in the second session. But the happiness was short-lived as the 29-year-old Kohli, who was dropped on scores of 11 and 32, couldn’t ride his luck for the third time when he drove a Lungi Ngidi delivery away from the body and edged it to third slip where Ab de Villiers made no mistake this time.
De Villiers had earlier dropped Kohli off Morne Morkel when the India skipper was batting on 32 while Vernon Philander dropped one early in the first session when Kohli was on 11. Kohli’s fall brought in his deputy Rahane (9), who had a lucky escape when Philander overstepped and had him caught behind.
But the Mumbai batsman soon fell to Morkel even as the review showed that the ball would have kissed his leg stick. India crawled to 114/4 at tea with Pujara and Parthiv (2) heading to the break undivided.
The Saurashtra batsman continued to dig deep, reaching his 17th Test fifty off 179 deliveries but was immediately dismissed caught behind by Quinton de Kock off Phehlukwayo. Towards the end, Bhuvneshwar provided some meat to the Indian total, scoring a 49-ball 30 even as the lower order comprising Parthiv, Hardik Pandya (0), Mohammed Shami (8) and Ishant Sharma (0) fell like nine pins.