Zubayr Hamza and Senuran Muthusamy put the brakes on a batting collapse as South Africa A battled to save the first unofficial Test against India A in Bengaluru on Monday.
The rain came down when South Africa A were 6-2; but there was not enough of it to water their wilting hopes. The sun came out again and the visitors lost their captain, Khaya Zondo, for a duck; the third victim of Mohammed Siraj who had sent back Sarel Erwee for three and Pieter Malan (duck).
At the close of play, Hamza was on 46 off 99 balls, including eight fours, while Muthusamy had 41 off 97 in a stand of 86 when he fell just three overs before the close, also to Siraj. The right-arm medium pacer went to the change room with the magnificent figures of 10-4-18-4. In South Africa’s labouring first innings of 246, he picked up 5-56 and is on course to better his best match figures of 9-116.
The beleaguered visitors though, still need 239 on the final day to make India A bat again.
To be fair, the South African batsmen had come in to bat after a gruelling day and a half in the field, during which India smashed 584-8 declared, taking a 338-run lead on the first innings.
Resuming play with India A on 411-2 on Monday morning, there was little joy for the South African bowlers, apart from the fact that Beuran Hendricks struck with the fifth ball of the day to remove the imposing Manyank Agarwal on his overnight score of 220, trapped lbw.
If the South Africans believed that would signal some relief from the relentless scoring, they were soon disabused of the notion, as Hanuma Vihari added 54 at a run a ball and Srikar Bharat (61) and Axar Patel (33 not out) piled on the pressure at an even better rate.
Eventually, at 584-8, captain Shreyas Iyer decided the lead of 338 was enough and called his men in. It seems to be more than enough.
The bowling figures made for grim reading: Hendricks ended with 3-98 off 22.4 overs, Duanne Olivier 2-88 off 26 (the only bowler to concede fewer than four an over) while off-spinner Dane Piedt finished with 2-92 off 22.
A second unofficial Test will be played, also in Bengaluru, from 10 August, after which they begin a triangular one-day tournament, including Australia.