The Proteas slipped to a precarious 36-3 at the close of play on day two of the second Test against India at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune.
Fast bowler Umesh Yadav marked a return to the Test XI with the key dismissals of openers Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar, who were removed lbw and bowled, respectively. Markram played down the wrong line for a second-ball duck, while Elgar’s belated attempt to leave the ball outside the off-stump failed.
The diminutive Temba Bavuma was then undone by some oversized bounce generated by fast bowler Mohammed Shami. Number three batsman Theunis de Bruyn and nightwatchman Anrich Nortje will resume on Saturday, when the visitors will attempt to address a hefty 565-run deficit. The Proteas would have been four wickets down, had fourth slip fielder Mayank Agarwal not dropped Nortje off the bowling of Shami.
Earlier, the hosts amassed an intimidating 601-5 declared on the back of captain Virat Kohli’s unbeaten double-century.
The sixth double-century of a prolific Test career was the highest for Kohli. Friday’s 254 not out surpassed the 243 collected against Sri Lanka in Delhi in 2017. He enjoyed a reprieve shortly after reaching 200, as a no-ball overruled spinner Senuran Muthusamy’s faux breakthrough.
Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock shared a tiff during a particularly taxing period for the Proteas. Captain Faf du Plessis defused De Kock and Rabada’s quarrel soon enough. The incident, however, somewhat overshadowed Keshav Maharaj’s 100th Test wicket.
Maharaj became the 17th South African Test cricketer to reach the milestone. He is the country’s fourth spinner to record the landmark, after the late Hugh Tayfield – and retired Paul Adams and Paul Harris.
Kohli now has 26 Test centuries – as many as Australia’s Steven Smith, but from 14 extra innings. One more and he will equal former Proteas captain Graeme Smith’s tally of 27 Test tons. Kohli also passed 7,000 Test runs – four more than Australia’s Don Bradman on Friday.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, meanwhile, was formally warned twice by umpires Nigel Llong and Chris Gaffaney for running on the pitch during a combative near century. Du Plessis and teammate Dean Elgar, too, gestured to Jadeja to stop hitting the deck with the bat. Jadeja was officially penalised for a similar act during India’s Test against New Zealand in Indore three years ago.
Day one saw first Test double-centurion Agarwal welcome another three-figure contribution, after Kohli had won the toss and opted to bat first. This is Kohli’s 50th Test as captain. Only Test retiree Mahendra Singh Dhoni has more.
India: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Senuran Muthusamy, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje.
Photo: Gallo Images