Kagiso Rabada and Hashim Amla overcame the challenging pitch conditions to boost South Africa to 81-3 at lunch on day two.
Survival was always going to be more important than runs on a surface offering plenty of assistance to the fast bowlers and the Proteas battled their way to the lunch break, adding 76 runs to their overnight total and suffering the loss of Dean Elgar and the nightwatchman, Rabada.
Rabada came to the crease late on day one following the dismissal of Aiden Markram and the nightwatchman ensured that the Proteas survived to the close of play without further loss of wickets. His determination was evident early on day two, as he continued to frustrate the Indian bowlers and keep South Africa’s hopes of a first-innings lead alive.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma were on fire during the initial stages of the day as Kumar continued to get a lot of swing, and both bowlers continued to get the ball to move significantly off the surface. Elgar was eventually undone by a Kumar delivery that pitched outside leg, seamed toward the left-handed batsmen, and caught the edge.
India claimed the big wicket of Elgar inside 30 minutes and at that stage, with the movement on offer, the visitors were hot favourites to make further inroads before lunch.
Rabada and Hashim Amla battled on as the Proteas went to the drinks break having added just 23 runs to their overnight score.
Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah failed to ask as many questions as the Indian opening bowlers did, though. Shami was particularly erratic, and the pressure began to lift on the Proteas batsmen.
Rabada proceeded to punish the overpitched deliveries as if he were a genuine No 3 batsman while Amla also grew in confidence, and by the end of the session, the pair had put on 64 runs for the third wicket.
Rabada did a great job to see off the new ball and, along with Amla, set the platform for the hosts. The nightwatchman’s crucial knock came to an end right before lunch, though as Ishant Sharma produced a great delivery to find the edge, and Ajinkya Rahane took the catch in the slips.
AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, and Quinton de Kock must follow Rabada and Amla’s example when they come to the crease later today. The Proteas must look to punish the wayward deliveries and at the same time, they must look to occupy the crease for as long as possible.
India 187 – Virat Kohli 54, Cheteshwar Pujara 50, Kagiso Rabada 3-39, Andile Phehlukwayo 2-25
SA 81-3 – Hashim Amla 32 not out, Kagiso Rabada 30, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2-17
South Africa trail by 106 runs
Photo: Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix