• Proteas face uphill battle

    It felt like déjà vu. Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla at the crease at the close of play for the second time in 24 hours.

    South Africa were 32-2 at stumps on day two of the third Test in Nagpur, needing a further 278 runs for a famous but unlikely victory to square the series.

    In a day which was dominated by talk about the condition of the pitch, 20 wickets fell in three sessions, the joint most wickets to fall in a single day of Test cricket in India.

    The second day ended exactly like the first one did on Wednesday – South Africa batting out the last few overs of the day with Elgar and Amla at the crease after Imran Tahir was sent out at No 3 as nightwatchman for the second time in the game.

    Even the most loyal Proteas supporters will doubt their team’s ability to push this Test past day three as India’s spin trio loom large.

    Stiaan van Zyl was the first wicket to fall late in the day. He fell for a fifth time in this series to Ravi Ashwin by getting caught at short extra cover, poor footwork not helping his cause.

    South Africa managed to bowl India out for a second time as the home side reached 173, but their first-innings lead of 143 runs gave Amla’s men a target of 310.

    Imran Tahir, after waiting 24 overs before being given a chance to bowl by captain Hashim Amla, claimed 5-38 in 11.3 overs and questions will be asked about why he wasn’t used earlier in the innings.

    That might all be irrelevant for now as South Africa try and reach 310 on a wicket which has been described as a nightmare to bat on.

    Neither team has scored more than 215 in the whole series so far.

    The biggest talking point has been the condition of the pitch, which has come in for fierce criticism on social media. It’s a debate which will go on for the rest of the series and will most probably define it once the dust has settled.

    Tahir took three wickets in 11 balls after he first came on. Shikhar Dhawan was caught behind trying to reverse sweep, Virat Kohli was caught by Faf du Plessis for 16 and JP Duminy took a good catch to get rid of Ajinkya Rahane for nine.

    Wriddhiman Saha was caught for seven by Amla after the ball came off Dane Vilas’s foot after the batsman tried to play an unorthodox sweep.

    Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra got bowled by Simon Harmer and Tahir respectively while Morne Morkel (3-19) got rid of Rohit Sharma (23) and Ravi Ashwin (7).

    Morkel also got the early breakthrough when Murali Vijay nicked a wide delivery behind for five. Cheteshwar Pujara was bowled by JP Duminy for 31 before Tahir was finally introduced to the attack.

    Picture: BCCI