After four days of intriguing Test cricket, South Africa have taken the pole position in the second Test in Centurion. It was another absorbing day of Test cricket on day four and in the end, South Africa left the field satisfied after reducing India to 34/3. The Proteas, 118 runs ahead, started off the day well as De Villiers and Elgar mixed caution with aggression to put on a 141-run stand. Elgar brought up a solid fifty with a doughty effort as the duo nullified the early morning threat and displayed trememdous composure. But just when it seemed like South Africa were popping into the driver's seat, De Villiers received a brute from Shami. The ball seamed and bounced and was almost unplayable. That sparked a mini collapse. Shami got it to reverse and suddenly India had bounced back with wickets of Elgar and Quinton de Kock before lunch.
Du Plessis, however, held fort and after lunch we saw some attritional cricket from South African skipper. With just five specialist batsmen in the side, Du Plessis needed some support as the nerves had suddenly started to float around. This is where Vernon Philander came to the Proteas' rescue as he added 46 with Du Plessis. That partnership brought about some stability.
Again, just when it seemed South Africa were dragging away the game from India, Ishant Sharma struck to remove Philander. He then sent back Keshav Maharaj before tea.
Du Plessis took the lead past 250, however, India did well to restrict the lead to 286. The Indians made good use of reverse swing, especially Shami and he finished with four wickets.
South Africa would have expected 30-40 runs more but now it was up to their bowlers to give them a good start and it was the uneven bounce that came into the picture. Rabada made Vijay drag one onto the stumps, the ball kept low and Vijay was late onto his defense. Rahul then played a careless shot off Ngidi's first ball of the spell and suddenly India were 16/2. Perhaps, the most defining moment of the day came when Ngidi trapped Kohli LBW.
South Africa started off with great discipline. They were accurate, aggressive and relentless and that helped them get the wickets of Rahul and Kohli. It's their skill and ability to seam the ball off the pitch that earned them the three wickets.
They would look to get Pujara early and continue with same momentum and discipline. If they do so, they might clinch the series within first two sessions on the final day.
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