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SA vs IND, 3rd Test, Day 3, Review: India hold firm grip; future of the match in doldrums

The match was stopped early after Elgar copped a blow to his helmet.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli of India bats. (Photo Source: Twitter)

India and South Africa are involved in yet another fierce contest in the ongoing third and final Test match of the series in Johannesburg. Though the series has been already decided, both the teams are eager to make the final statement in the series to take the psychological advantage for the ODI series which will follow. The third day began with India leading by 42 runs and the batsmen continued to fight their way to score the runs on a pitch which increasingly became dangerous.

Murali Vijay and KL Rahul walked out to the middle with an aim to extend the lead of the visitors. But the latter poked at a delivery outside the off-stump and was caught in the slips by Faf du Plessis off none other than Vernon Philander. Cheteshwar Pujara, the rock in the first innings for India, then received a snorter of a ball which reared from the good length and he had to play at it only to edge it to the same fielder this time off Morne Morkel.

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Vijay and Kohli rebuild

India were staring down the barrel of yet another collapse with the score reading 57/3 even as their skipper Virat Kohli came out to bat. Both, he and Vijay, managed to survive some extremely close calls but also put away the bad balls to the boundary whenever possible. Vijay, however, took some blows on his body as the pitch had started to crack on a good length area. Whenever the ball pitched in that area, it misbehaved and hurt the batsmen. Both the batsmen needed the attention of the physio after taking the blows on their hands.

Even the on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould were seen discussing the prospect of the pitch to the two captains for a period of time before deciding to continue. But they kept on observing keenly the way the wicket behaves. Amidst all this, Virat Kohli looked class apart playing some delightful cover drives reaching to the pitch of the ball. Just when it felt that the duo will bat until lunch safely, Kagiso Rabada bowled a brilliant yorker to Vijay and castled him.

Vijay though batted beautifully and left all the deliveries outside the off-stump playing a whopping 127 deliveries for his 25 runs. The arrival of Ajinkya Rahane changed the complexion of the game completely as he started playing his shots, all technically sound, and added quick runs along with his skipper. But Kohli got a snorter of a delivery from Kagiso Rabada which deviated off the pitch after pitching and disturbed the bails. Soon, Hardik Pandya chipped one back to the same bowler as the home side sensed an opening.

This is where they did the mistake and got carried away. Bhuvneshwar Kumar joined hands with Rahane and stitched a crucial stand of an unbeaten 51 runs and are still looking good in the middle. South Africa also dropped both the batsmen and piled on the agony on themselves on a tough pitch. Unfortunately, Rahane missed out on his half-century and was strangled down the leg-side on 48. But what took the game away from South Africa was the contribution of the lower order.

Bhuvi and Mohammed Shami added 35 for the eighth wicket and extended the lead past 230. Eventually, India were bowled out for 247 with a hefty lead of 240 runs given the nature of the pitch. South African bowlers were visibly frustrated and shared wickets but should’ve done much better to fold the visitors early on the day.

Drama in the last hour

The hosts came out to bat on a treacherous track and lost Aiden Markram who edged a bouncy delivery to Parthiv Patel who clung on to a tough catch. Since then it was all survival for them as Indian bowlers spit venom with the help of the pitch. But the dram started when Dean Elgar copped a blow on his helmet off a bouncer bowled by Jasprit Bumrah. The umpires stopped the game right away with the Indian camp keen on continuing to play.

Virat Kohli wasn’t amused with the decision at all as the pitch had nothing to do with the blow that disturbed Elgar. It was a complete misjudgement from him according to the commentators on air. Also, the on-field umpires and Match Referee along with the captains were discussing the future of the Test which is in doldrums now. The rain also arrived soon confirming the end of day’s play and as of now India are having the firm grip on the game and surely deserve all the praise which is coming their way.

Brief Scores:

India 187 (V Kohli 54, C Pujara 50; K Rabada 3/39, A Phehlukwayo 2/25) & 247 (A Rahane 48, V Kohli 41, B Kumar 33; K Rabada 3/69, V Philander 3/61, M Morkel 3/47)

South Africa 194 (H Amla 61, V Philander 35; J Bumrah 5/54, B Kumar 3/44) & 17/1 (D Elgar 11*; M Shami 1/7)

Keep following CricTracker for more updates on South Africa vs India series

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