JOHANNESBURG: South Africa and India struggled on a venomous pitch, as day two of the third and final test drew to an intriguing close at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Resuming on six for one in response to India’s first-innings total of 187 all out, the Proteas slipped to 194 all out. The tourists, in turn, removed the slender deficit and moved to 49 for one – and a 42-run lead.
Parthiv Patel perished to Vernon Philander late in the day. Sharp seam movement, witnessed throughout proceedings, was the undoing of Patel, who opened the batting ahead of KL Rahul.
Rahul and Murali Vijay moved to 16 and 13 not out, respectively, as the host attack’s lines and lengths waned amid the late afternoon laze – much to the visible annoyance of coach Ottis Gibson.
The batsmen, indeed, were not forced to play at enough deliveries.
Vijay and Rahul will resume on Friday and, alongside the middle order, will target a 300-plus target for the hosts to pursue on a difficult deck.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s early in-roads, complemented by Jasprit Bumrah’s maiden test five-wicket haul, were the cause of South Africa’s capitulation.
Wednesday had seen South Africa’s all-pace attack reduce the opposition to a surprisingly low total, after Virat Kohli elected to bat first.
Rabada completed figures of three for 39, while Philander, Morne Morkel and Andile Phehlukwayo snared a brace each. Lungi Ngidi, meanwhile, accounted for the key dismissal of the talismanic Kohli.
The hosts have an indifferent record at the Wanderers, where they have lost six of their last 12 tests. They have not beaten India at the Johannesburg venue in four attempts. Draws occurred in 2013, 1997 and 1992 – and defeat in 2006.
The Proteas sport an unassailable two-nil series lead, after 72- and 135-run victories in the first test at Newlands in Cape Town and the second at SuperSport Park in Centurion, respectively.
Philander was named man of the match in Cape Town, on the back of nine key wickets – including a telling second-innings six-for.
Ngidi clinched the accolade in Centurion, also thanks largely to a superb six-wicket haul in the final innings.