South Africa Shows its Nerves of Steel and Takes Day 3
Leher Reddy Challuri DP 1
On the 4th of October in Visakhapatnam, Dean Elgar, Faf Du Plessis, and Quinton de Kock helped push South Africa to 385-8 at the end of Day 3, with Ravichandran Ashwin being the standout bowler for India.
Temba Bavuma started his innings sketchily, driving to covers and looping an edge over the slips on only the second ball of the day. He played an authoritative on-drive soon after to settle the nerves. Dean Elgar put in a conscious effort to put pressure on the spinners, who had picked up the bulk of the wickets thus far, playing with aggression along the ground and aerially. After just one more boundary, Bavuma was dismissed for 18 in the 27th over, missing a delivery that deviated off the pitch and crashed into his pads low. Faf du Plessis also came out in an attempt to pressure the spinners when the opportunity presented itself. Elgar got to his half-century in the 40th over with an on drive for a single.
Ravindra Jadeja produced a magic delivery in the 42nd over, exhibiting extreme turn and bounce against du Plessis. The pair was unphased by this, however, as Elgar took him on for two big aerial shot soon after. He could have been dismissed in the 46th over, however, as Wriddhiman Saha, India’s keeper, dropped an edge as Elgar tried to defend. Some deliveries from the pacers started to keep low as the scorching heat took its toll on the pitch as well. The pair managed to go to lunch at 153-4, without losing another wicket regardless.
Not long after the second session began, du Plessis got to his 20th half-century in the 53rd over. The pair put up a solid 115-run partnership, which lasted until du Plessis was dismissed for 55 off 103 balls as he flicked the ball straight to short leg. Soon after, Elgar brought up a magnificent century on a difficult pitch with a six in the 60th over, the 12th of his career. Quinton de Cock, new to the crease, began his innings with a good-looking cover drive, but could have been dismissed early in the 61st over as he was squared up and edged to silly point, which didn’t stick. He slowed down a little since the drop catch, but picked up the pace soon, hitting wonderful shots along the ground and occasionally going arial as well, putting pressure on the spinners like Elgar and du Plessis have. Soon, he got to his half-century and continued playing with aggression, finishing the third session 69*, with Elgar 133*, with South Africa at 292-5, with another good batting session under their belt.
Elgar faced some trouble against the seamers as a delivery he tried to leave ended up going to third man for a boundary off his gloves, and could have easily been caught with a slip in position. A bizarre delivery from Jadeja that Elgar tried to sweep from the leg side went to the fence for byes as well. After that, the two picked up again, and Elgar even got to 150 in the 92nd over, with a cut down to third man reaching the boundary. The Indians had another difficult chance to dismiss de Cock in the 98th over as an inside edge meant that the ball hit his foot and looped up, beyond the reach of the keeper or the slip fielder. De Cock then reverse swept the ball for a boundary as his innovative game was finally starting to emerge. The pair put up a big 164-run partnership, which lasted until Elgar was dismissed for 160 off 287 deliveries, slog sweeping up in the air and letting deep square leg a wonderful catch running forward, which gave Jadeja his 200th wicket in tests.
Senuran Muthusamy, the debutant, could have been dismissed for a duck as a booming drive gave away an edge to the slips, which was dropped in the 101st over. De Cock brought up the 5th hundred of his test career with a splendid six over cover in the 105th over. He was dismissed soon after, however, as he was bowled through the gate for 111 off 163 deliveries in the 110th over. Vernon Philander came and went, dismissed for a duck as a drive caught the inside edge and bowled him in the 114th over. With 8 wickets down, there wasn’t much left to the batting Innings, but Muthusamy and Keshav Maharaj ensured that no more wickets were lost to take their innings into Day 4. The last session was definitely India’s, sending two set batsman and one all rounder to the pavilion.
Hanuma Vihari bowled 9 overs but was expensive, going for 38 runs. Rohit Sharma bowled just two overs for 7 runs. Mohammad Shami bowled economically without success, going for only 40 runs off his 15 overs. Ishant Sharma picked up 1 wicket and went for a reasonable 44 runs off his 14 overs. Ravindra Jadeja recorded average figures of 2-116 off 37 overs, but may have been a tad unfortunate considering the turn and bounce he was able to extract from the pitch. The star of the innings is Ravichandran Ashwin, getting his 27th 5 wicket haul, recording excellent figures of 5-128 off 41 overs.
Despite the fact that South Africa lost three big wickets in a hurry, they trail India by 117 runs, not only successfully avoiding the follow-on, but giving themselves a chance to draw the game as well. The next thing they would want is for the tailenders and Muthusamy to trim the lead as much as possible. With the game in the balance, Day 4 shall be an intriguing one. Join us on the Sreenidhian to find out what happens on the 5th of October!