The Proteas lost captain Faf du Plessis early before middle-order duo Zubayr Hamza and Temba Bavuma combined for a steely partnership on day three of the third and final Test against India in Ranchi on Monday. A collapse followed, though.
Resuming on 9-2, the tourists soon slipped to 16-3 in the wake of Du Plessis’ departure off the fifth delivery of the day. Fast bowler Umesh Yadav generated enough seam movement to jag away from the right-hander and clip the off-stump.
Du Plessis’ exit left Hamza, who replaced fellow right-hander Theunis de Bruyn in the XI, and Bavuma to build a solid 91-run partnership.
The recalled Hamza welcomed a maiden Test half-century en route to a career-best 62, surpassing the 47 collected against Pakistan at the Wanderers in Johannesburg earlier this year. Vice-captain Bavuma, meanwhile, supported him with a complementary 32.
Hamza and Bavuma fell in quick succession, though. The former played to a delivery that warranted a stroke off the front foot. The latter raced past a delivery that turned substantially, affording wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha a relatively straightforward stumping.
Debutant wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen followed soon thereafter, bowled by spinner Ravindra Jadeja. He and fellow left-arm spinner Shabaz Nadeem indeed rattled the visitors’ total of 129-6 at the tea break.
Cape Cobras teammates George Linde and Dane Piedt will resume for Monday’s middle session, with the Proteas still trailing by a hefty 368 runs.
On days one and two, affected by rain and poor light, India amassed 497-9 in the first innings on the back of a superb double-century from opening batsman Rohit Sharma. His 212 marked India’s third double-century this series. Opener Mayank Agarwal struck one in the first Test in Visakhapatnam and captain Virat Kohli another during the second in Pune.
The home side boast an unassailable 2-0 series lead after comfortable victories in Visakhapatnam and Pune.
India: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shahbaz Nadeem, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock, Zubayr Hamza, Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), George Linde, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi.
Photo: Gallo Images