India vs South Africa: Visitors need Cheteshwar Pujara to step up on Day 5 to keep hopes of retaining trophy alive

India need Cheteshwar Pujara to anchor the Indian innings on Day 5 of the second Test, with the rest of the Indian middle-order also stepping up to the cause.

FirstCricket Staff, Jan 16, 2018 22:57:39 IST

A stonewalling effort from Faf du Plessis and Vernon Philander combined with an inspirational spell from debutant Lungi Ngidi helped the South Africans seize control early in India's second essay on Day 4 of the ongoing second Test.

Du Plessis and Philander produced a patient sixth-wicket stand worth 46, with the pair consuming as many as 26 overs during the partnership. It helped rescue the hosts after they were reduced to 163/5 at one stage, with the possibility of getting shot out for less than 200 looking quite possible given the momentum that the Indian bowlers were exhibiting. Du Plessis produced another captain's knock down the order, falling just two short of a well-deserved half-century, one that would've been his second in this Test.

India vs South Africa: Visitors need Cheteshwar Pujara to step up on Day 5 to keep hopes of retaining trophy alive

Cheteshwar Pujara holds the key to India pulling off a miracle on Day 5. Reuters

After being set a challenging target of 287 to level the series, India began on a nervous note with both Murali Vijay and KL Rahul taking their time to adjust to the crease. The former was the first to depart, getting his off-stump rattled by a Kagiso Rabada delivery, while Rahul gifted his wicket away about 20 deliveries later, guiding the ball straight into the hands of point. Yet another poor start for the Indians in this tour.

Skipper Virat Kohli was expected to produce another gem after leading the way for the hosts in the previous innings with a 153. However, debutant Ngidi made this match all the more memorable by trapping the Indian captain leg-before with a delivery that stayed low and angled into the batsman sharply. Kohli tried reviewing it out of pure hope, but it was too easy a decision for the umpire in the first place.

While No 3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has looked solid in his stay so far, Parthiv Patel has been roughed up a bit in his 24-ball stay at the crease so far. The two however, have an enormous task ahead of them as they seek to pull off a miracle on the final day of the ongoing Test — the miracle being staving off a defeat at any cost, and not necessarily chasing the target down. For the Indians to keep their hopes of retaining the Freedom Trophy alive, Pujara has to step up for once in this tour, and anchor the remainder of the Indian innings and hope the others in the middle order also step up in his support.

Otherwise, it already looks like a one-way road that eventually leads to a massive South African victory.

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Updated Date: Jan 16, 2018 22:57:39 IST

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4027 115
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 4366 104
5 Australia 3270 99
6 Sri Lanka 3795 95
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 5019 98
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7748 277
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4720 262
4 India 8620 261
5 Australia 5471 261
6 New Zealand 4784 252