India ended day three of the first test match between India and South Africa in the upper hand closing at 16/1 with Rahul and Shradhul Thakur, the nightwatchman, at the crease in their second innings. Mayank Agarwal was the batsman out caught by wicket-keeper off the bowling of Jansen for 4.
Poor Resumption By India
After the second was completely washed out due to rain, India resumed with an overnight score of 272/3 with well-set Rahul and Rahane. However, things did not start well for India as Rahul was the first man to go adding just one run to his overnight score. Then, started the procession with Rahane, Pant the main batsmen getting out cheaply and the tail did not wag this time around. India managed to score just 327. Ngidi was the wreck-in-chief picking up six wickets.
The collapse meant that India could not cash on the opening stand and threw it away. There were some ordinary shots played, though one could say there was help from the pitch to the South African bowlers as it freshened up from rain the previous day and moisture from the covers. South Africa would not have asked for a better morning and any first innings score below 350, especially at the end of day 1, seemed very reasonable.
SA Started Poorly
There were a tricky few overs for the home team to face before the lunch break and it did not end well as the captain, Dean Elgar, was caught by wicket-keeper Pant of Bumrah for just 1 run and ended at 16/1 at lunch. Indian bowlers were immaculate in their line and length and the pressure was kept. The visiting pacers looked way better than the home team in terms of control and surprisingly even with their pace and bounce.
Post lunch break, the South African batsmen couldn’t withstand the immense pressure, getting to the pavilion one after the other. Shami looked the pick of the bowlers claiming two quick wickets while Siraj was unlucky to get only 1 wicket during this brief period. South Africa were quickly reduced to 32/4 and were looking down the barrel. It would have been even worse had Rahul held on to the not-so-tough slip catch of De Cock off the bowling of Siraj.
Then De Cock along with Bavuma started a counter punch after the introduction of Ashwin into the bowling.
Injury Scare To Bumrah
There was a huge scare among the Indian camp when Bumrah stepped wrong the pitch edge during his follow-through. He winced in pain for a while and this made even the coach Rahul Dravid worried. He was taken off the field and Siraj completed the remaining over where one ball was left. Indian fans’ nerves cooled off however as Bumrah returned to the field after about 1 hour and even bowled a bit during the end of the South African innings.
Good Partnership Between Bavuma and De Cock
De Cock and Bavuma looked steady, not leaving any loose balls that were on offer, and especially punished Ashwin who looked off-color with the pitch not providing any assistance to the spinners. De Cock even lofted him for an off-drive six, which looked effortless and classy.
These two were showing signs of putting Sout Africa back on track; however, just as the tea break was looming, De Cock inside edged on to the stumps off Sradhul Thakur and SA ended at 132/5 at tea break still looking out of sorts.
Post Tea, Indian bowlers were relentless on their line and length and the host batsmen showed little resistance. Shami was particularly fearsome with precision and managed to extract good support from the pitch. He grabbed 5 wickets and South Africa ended their first innings at 197. This meant India had 130 crucial first-innings lead. Bavuma was the lone batsmen to cross 50, making 52.
With only 2 days left and if the weather permits, India should have the final laugh and get that elusive win at Centurion which has been a fortress for the hosts with impeccable record.