Ishant Sharma took two wickets as the Proteas crawled to tea on 230-7 on day four at Centurion.
India have worked hard for their wickets on day four, needing nearly an hour to claim the wicket of AB de Villiers in the first session. Mohammed Shami then proceeded to knock over Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock in quick succession, and the visitors went to the lunch with some hope of saving this Test match.
Faf du Plessis and Vernon Philander consolidated thereafter, but only for ninety minutes later as the Proteas were in a bit of a hole. The hosts added just 35 runs to their total during that period.
Something had to give and Sharma dug the ball in short to get Philander caught on the leg-side. Keshav Maharaj perished two overs later when he was caught behind by Parthiv Patel.
Meanwhile, Du Plessis continued to play defensively as the Proteas skipper and Kagiso Rabada survived to tea. Overall, South Africa scored 57 runs in an extended session of two hours and 15 minutes.
Surely the Proteas will shift gear after the break where they may be looking to set India a target in the region of 300. They may also be mindful of the time remaining in the game, and the possibility of thunderstorms and showers late on days four and five.
That said, no Test side has ever chased down a score of more than 251 in the fourth innings at Centurion and A few of the Proteas batsmen have struggled with the variable bounce on this surface – Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla were undone by deliveries that kept low while AB de Villiers got one that leapt up off a length. It won’t get any easier for the side batting last.
SA 335 (1st innings) – Aiden Markram 94, Hashim Amla 82, Ravi Ashwin 4-113, Ishant Sharma 3-46
India 307 (1st innings) – Virat Kohli 153, Murali Vijay 46, Morne Morkel 4-60, Vernon Philander 1-46
SA 230-7 (2nd innings) – AB de Villiers 80, Dean Elgar 61, Mohammed Shami 3-42, Ishant Sharma 2-40
South Africa lead by 258 runs
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