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Cricket | India tour of South Africa 2017/18

Lungi Ngidi © Reuters Images

Advantage SA after Ngidi snares Kohli

A pitch that was believed to be benign for the better part of the fourth day as South Africa ground out runs to set India a target of 287 turned dangerously up and down when the fourth innings began.

Day 4 Interactive coverage

In truth, while the pitch had deteriorated, it was also the height and pace of the South African attack that made the difference on Tuesday.

India slumped to 35 for three, and had lost the big wicket of Virat Kohli, leaving South Africa in control of the second test at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

Kagiso Rabada, handed the new ball ahead of Morne Morkel, who took 4-60 in the first innings, absolutely steamed in from the Hennops River End, where more of the variable bounce was coming from and it was not long before he struck. Murali Vijay had little chance against a back of length delivery that took the inside edge and crashed into the stumps.

Lokesh Rahul, choked for runs, played a back-foot punch with the horizontal bat to Lungi Ngidi, the ball too close for the cut, and perfectly picked out by Keshav Maharaj at point.

All eyes were on Kohli when he walked out to the middle, his gait displaying not the slightest hint of nervousness or trepidation.

Early on, Kohli was squared up, the leading edge racing away to the third-man fence, but that would be the only boundary he scored on the day.

Reprising his first-innings delivery Ngidi got a ball to come back in sharply to Kohli, and this time the pitch could not be blamed for the wicket, sheer pace beating Kohli’s inside edge and crashing into pad.

Kohli reviewed even as Cheteshwar Pujara didn't appear too confident and when the three reds flashed on the screen, most of India’s hopes of a historic run chase seemed to leave the playing arena.


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India, who picked Rohit Sharma ahead of Ajinkya Rahane in both tests of the series, did not have the confidence to send him out at the fall of Kohli’s wicket, Parthiv Patel being promoted to see the day off in the company of Pujara.

If pace made the difference for South Africa, it was a slower ball from Jasprit Bumrah that did the trick for India.

Faf du Plessis punched the ball back to the bowler without making clean contact to be caught and bowled for a hard-fought 48.

Earlier, the South African captain had offered a more difficult chance to the same bowler, the ball being struck hard on that occasion, and Bumrah was unsure of whether to go for the catch or take cover.

Du Plessis’s innings took up 141 balls, showing just how difficult it was to score quickly on this surface when the bowling is disciplined.

Rabada did his best to give his captain support, but Mohammad Shami was too good for the tail-ender, a perfectly pitched ball that left the batsman taking the inside edge to be well caught by Kohli at second slip.

The last-wicket partnership provided much-needed entertainment and relief to the crowd, who had endured some attritional cricket.

Morne Morkel slapped Bumrah over mid-on for a boundary and Ngidi did his best to defend against Ravichandran Ashwin’s off-spin, but his first attempt to play the big shot backfired as Vijay held on to the catch at long-on after a minor misjudgment.

The middle session of the day was perhaps their best session of this tour of South Africa, keeping the home batsmen quiet over an extended period of time, bowling good, tight spells at both ends.

Ishant Sharma, who bowled an eight-over spell from the Hennops River end, constantly asked questions of the batsmen, slanting the ball in and occasionally getting it to move off the pitch when he bowled cutters.

With the ball getting softer the bowlers had to resort to trying different things and South Africa’s batsmen were forced to be patient.

Vernon Philander was nervy early on, especially when running between the wickets with Du Plessis, but he soon came to terms with the line of attack he was combating and worked the ball behind square to the leg side for the safe single far more than Kohli would have liked.

Philander and Du Plessis added 46, but India had bowled well enough to make them consume 26 overs in the process. It was a restless Philander who gave up his wicket, trying to swat a short ball from Ishant to the leg side.

Keshav Maharaj pushed at a short of a length ball from Ishant that was slanted away and nicked off to the keeper, leaving Rabada to take up the duties of trying to help Du Plessis stretch the lead. At the tea break, Du Plessis had 37 from 122 balls to his name and South Africa had reached 230 for seven.

If the middle session was quiet, the first one was properly busy.


De Villiers, resuming on an overnight 50, added 30 to his tally, and looked well set for what could have been South Africa’s first century in the series before Shami got a delivery to lift from a good length.

De Villiers had set himself up for the late cut but the extra bounce did the batsman in, the edge being collected by Parthiv.

Elgar, who had been tormented by a variety of bowlers on both the third and fourth days, steadfastly refused to be dismissed, despite playing and missing plenty and even hitting the ball uppishly and dangerously close to fielders. Elgar ground his way 61 before finding a way to be dismissed.

Going for the hook against Shami, Elgar perfectly picked out Rahul, who juggled the ball but held onto the catch.

De Kock, who came into this series on the back of a poor run of scores and managed to stitch together an aggressive cameo at Newlands, had yet another forgettable stay at No 6. In the 48th over, bowled by Shami, De Kock edged four balls in succession.

The first flew over the slips, the second went between the wicketkeeper and slip, the third was wide of second slip and finally, the fourth found the big gloves of Parthiv.

From there on it was the Du Plessis show, and he helped put enough on the board to set India a stiff target, and make deep inroads with a day left to play.

Report Day 1
Report Day 2
Report Day 3

SOUTH AFRICA: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungisani Ngidi, Morne Morkel

INDIA: Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Parthiv Patel (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma


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