Jasprit Bumrah took two fantastic wickets late on the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa at Centurion on Wednesday, to give India a crucial advantage going into the final day.
On a tough track to bat with a pitch offering variable bounce, the hosts took regular wickets via Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen, not allowing India any long-lasting partnerships as they wrapped them up for 174 with a theoretical target of 305 to win.
Opener Aiden Markram fell early for just one run, with Keegan Petersen (17) and Rassie van der Dussen (11) also departing after offering some resistance.
South Africa skipper Dean Elgar led the charge with a stubborn 52, but Bumrah produced two moments of magic to swing the Test match India’s way at the death, leaving them a full day to take six wickets and win the match. South Africa need 211 to win.
S Africa vs India
December 30, 2021, 7:30am
Starting the day on 16-1, India night-watchman Shardul Thakur thrashed a six off opening bowler Jansen but departed for 10 without adding a run, before Rabada spurned an extremely presentable chance, shelling the catch after India No 3 Cheteshwar Pujara chipped it tamely to mid-on.
Ngidi, frustrated after that dropped catch off his bowling, then struck to dismiss KL Rahul, who attempted a punchy back-foot drive but could only edge it to Elgar at first slip to end his watchful 23 off 74 balls, before Kohli survived a narrow lbw shout on umpire’s call as the hosts reviewed.
After that, progress until lunch was fairly serene, with several loose deliveries allowing Kohli and Pujara easy boundaries on their way to 79-3 at lunch. Kohli then drove extravagantly, needlessly at a wide Jansen ball and edged to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock off the first ball after the break.
New batter Ajinkya Rahane wasted no time in attacking the imposing 6’8″ fast bowler Jansen, 21, hitting him for 14 off just three balls, but skied a pull shot as India aimed to accelerate and pile runs on.
The swashbuckling Rishabh Pant, and Ravi Ashwin, shared a useful partnership of 35 – the highest of the India innings – before Ashwin gloved behind and Pant holed out for an entertaining run-a-ball 34 as the Proteas wrapped up the tail to dismiss India for 174.
Set a putative 305 to win, South Africa began badly with Markram chopping onto his stumps just nine balls into the innings as first-innings hero Mohammad Shami threatened early on.
Although skipper Dean Elgar and Petersen recovered with a 33 partnership, Mohammad Siraj drew the edge from Petersen, leading the fiery bowler to joyously mimic Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal celebration.
With Jasprit Bumrah banging the ball in at nearly 90mph and Pant chirping away behind the stumps, the home side were under severe pressure, but Elgar and van der Dussen ground out a dogged, gritty stand of 40 and saw off the India seam quartet.
Bumrah produced a superlative moment of individual quality to bowl van der Dussen, getting a pearler of a delivery to nip back and clip off stump, before bowling night-watchman Maharaj for eight to leave South Africa at risk of losing only their third game in 27 at SuperSport Park on Thursday.
Watch day five of South Africa vs India on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 7.30am.