Vernon Philander took three wickets as South Africa reduced India to 82-7 and resumed control of the first Test at Newlands.
This match has not been wanting for drama. India began the second session of day four needing 208 runs for victory. By tea, the tourists were seven wickets down and still 126 runs adrift of that target.
The pitch has certainly assisted the seam bowlers as earlier in the day, South Africa lost their last eight wickets for just 65 runs and a total of 15 wickets have fallen across the two sessions today.
Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan did well to survive the first 30 minutes as Vernon Philander was relentless in that initial spell while twice Vijay was given out by the on-field umpire and twice the decision was overturned following a television review.
Philander would not be denied for long though as the opening bowler hit the perfect length and got the ball to leave the right-handed batsman. This time, Vijay was caught by AB de Villiers at third slip.
De Villiers’s reaction to the dismissal was a statement in itself. The Proteas hadn’t given up hope.
Morne Morkel claimed another key wicket when Cheteshwar Pujara failed to deal with a ball just short of a length and at 39-3, India were in trouble.
Philander returned later in the session to claim the biggest wicket of the lot – that of Virat Kohli. The ball struck the India skipper on the pad, and not for the first time in the innings the umpire lifted his finger.
Kohli refused to believe that he was out. The review, however, did nothing to change the on-field call and India’s gun batsman had to go.
The Proteas missed a chance when Rohit Sharma attempted to hook Kagiso Rabada for 6. Keshav Maharaj put the catch down at deep square leg, and for a moment it appeared as if the hosts had blown a big opportunity.
The very next over, however, Sharma chopped the ball back onto to his stumps to give Philander his third wicket. Rabada removed Hardik Pandya and then Wriddhiman Saha to give the Proteas the edge heading into what should be the final session of the game.
SA 286 (1st innings) – AB de Villiers 65, Faf du Plessis 62, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-87, Ravi Ashwin 2-21
India 209 (1st innings) – Hardik Pandya 93, Cheteshwar Pujara 26, Vernon Philander 3-33, Kagiso Rabada 3-34
SA 130 (2nd innings) – AB de Villiers 35, Aiden Markram 34, Mohammed Shami 3-28, Jasprit Bumrah 3-39
India 82-7 (2nd innings) – Virat Kohli 28, Vernon Philander 3-22, Morne Morkel 2-29
India need 126 runs to win
Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix