Bumrah’s late strikes tilt game India’s way

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South Africa are under the pump on a pitch offering plenty of help

South Africa 197 and 94 for 4 (Elgar 52*, Bumrah 2-22, Siraj 1-25) need a further 211 runs to beat India 327 and 174 (Pant 34, Rabada 4-42, Jansen 4-55)

India’s irresistible seam attack worked their way around a stubborn Dean Elgar and left the visitors six wickets away from victory at SuperSport Park. In pursuit of 305, South Africa were 94 for 4 at close on a track that was still offering sideways movement.
More than that, it was the uneven bounce that proved an ever-present threat to the batters. Jasprit Bumrah got balls to kick up from a length, Mohammed Shami from a short of a length and Mohammed Siraj from various lengths. Late in the day, a length ball from Shardul Thakur rolled through at shin-height, but Elgar stooped low enough to keep it out.

Rassie van der Dussen was fairly organised in defence until the final exchanges when he shouldered arms to an inducker from Bumrah that clanked the top of off. Bumrah then yorked Keshav Maharaj, the nightwatchman, off what turned out to be the last ball of the day. Elgar, meanwhile, was unbeaten on 52 at stumps.

When the seamers erred too full or too straight, a switched-on Elgar put them away confidently with checked drives and flicks. One such flick, off Siraj, got him past fifty.

Shami, who excelled with a five-wicket bag on day three, got the new ball along with Bumrah, ahead of Siraj. He made it count immediately with a delightful set-up. His first ball to Aiden Markram was full enough for the drive and snagged the outside edge, but it didn’t carry to Rishabh Pant. The second was shorter and seamed away to graze the outside edge once again, but this didn’t carry either, falling short of gully. Having scrambled Markram’s jugement with the first two balls, he made the incision with the third that veered in and had the opener chopping on for 1.

3:39

What's ailing Virat Kohli?

What’s ailing Virat Kohli?

Keegan Petersen clipped Shami through midwicket and caressed him down the ground for fours, but Siraj came on and bested him with a set-up of his own. After pinning Petersen just above the knee-roll with an inswinger – it was bouncing over the stumps – Siraj found the outside edge with an outswinger.

Elgar then got together with van der Dussen and briefly repelled India’s attack with a 40-run partnership for the third wicket. Bumrah, however, seized the day with his terrific double-strike.

Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen had thrived earlier in the day, sharing eight wickets between them to bowl India out for 174 from an overnight 16 for 1. It was Pant, who top-scored for India, with a run-a-ball 34, swelling the lead beyond 300.

In a rollicking passage of play, Pant advanced at Wiaan Mulder and swatted him over mid-off with one hand. He cracked Jansen over point and pulled Rabada to the midwicket boundary. However, when Pant walked at Rabada and aimed another pull, the quick benefited from a bit of extra bounce and had him flapping a catch to mid-on.

Thakur, India’s nightwatchman, was the first to be dismissed on day four, also undone by irregular bounce off the bowling of Rabada. Rahul, India’s first-innings centurion, continued to show impeccable judgment outside off, before Lungi Ngidi found extra bounce and bested him.

Ngidi could’ve had Cheteshwar Pujara on 4 had Rabada not shelled a fairly straightforward catch at midwicket. Pujara added 12 to his tally before Ngidi had him caught by the keeper down the leg side.

Jansen sliced through the middle order, removing both Virat Kohli (18) and Ajinkya Rahane (20). For the second time in the Test match, Kohli went searching for a ball that finished wider than a set of stumps outside off and edged a drive. As for Rahane, he motored along to 20 off 22 balls before holing out to deep square leg. Having taken Jansen for 4,6,4, including a hooked six in the 37th over, Rahane hooked again in Jansen’s next over, although half-heartedly, and couldn’t control it this time.

India’s lower order and then South Africa’s top order spiralled out of control during extended sessions. There’s forecast for some rain on the final day, but, despite that threat, India will fancy their chances of going 1-0 up.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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