For the first time in this series, a team managed to bat out an entire day as India ended day one on 231-7 in the fourth Test in New Delhi.
India got away from South Africa in the final session on Thursday having gone to tea on 139-6. This was due to a 59-run partnership between Ajinkya Rahane (89 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (24). Thereafter Rahane, who now has the highest score for a batsman in the series, shared another crucial unbeaten 33-run partnership with Ravi Ashwin.
Dane Piedt (4-101) and Kyle Abbott (3-23) were the standout bowlers for South Africa, combining well to put India in trouble at tea before the home side wrestled back the initiative.
Piedt, in only his second Test, bowled 34 overs (15 of them in succession) to get his third four-for in three consecutive innings. He was unlucky not to get his fifth scalp after Hashim Amla dropped his second catch of the day at slip, this time giving Rahane a second life with his score on 78 and India on 216.
Abbott was equally impressive, getting the ball to reverse swing and bowling with accuracy to fill the void left by the injured Dale Steyn. He took the only wicket of the third session after Jadeja flicked one to Dean Elgar for a good, low catch at short mid-on.
Bad light stopped play with six overs left in the day and Amla opting not to take the new ball after 80 overs.
A string of wickets fell shortly after lunch as Shikhar Dhawan (33) and Cheteshwar Pujara (14) fell in consecutive overs off Piedt and Abbott respectively to leave India on 66-3.
Virat Kohli (44) and Rahane shared a 70-run partnership to stabilise things, but the Indian captain lost his wicket in unfortunate fashion. He played a sweep shot straight into Temba Bavuma’s thigh, who was fielding at short leg, and as the ball went up into the air Dane Vilas reacted quickly to get across and take the catch.
Abbott bowled Pujara between bat and pad before Hashim Amla dropped Rohit Sharma on nought at slip with India on 138-4. It didn’t haunt South Africa for long as Sharma played a rash shot in the very next over off Piedt, hitting the ball high up into the air for Imran Tahir to take the catch at long-on.
Tahir had a day to forget and only bowled seven overs at 5.14 an over without a wicket. He was too inconsistent and conceded too many runs at a time when South Africa needed to keep things tight.
It’s hard to see Tahir continuing in the Test side if Amla doesn’t figure out a way of using him effectively.
Scoring wasn’t easy in the morning session as India only managed about two runs an over. South Africa thought they had a breakthrough with India on 15-0 when Abbott had Murali Vijay caught at second slip by AB de Villiers for 10.
However, the delivery was deemed a no ball after a review of Abbott’s front foot convinced the third umpire that he had nothing behind the line. It was a marginal call, but looked like the correct one on the TV replays.
India soldiered on and Piedt got the breakthrough when Vijay drove at a delivery that kept straight, edging the ball to Amla at first slip for 12.