South Africa have given themselves the opportunity to seal the three-match Test series against India, after restricting the visitors to 35/3 at the end of play on day 4 at SuperSport Park. Du Plessis and Vernon Philander scratched the lead past the 200-mark just in time for Lunch, then added just 36 runs in 18 soporific overs after the interval before the partnership ended tamely with Philander lobbing a pull off Ishant Sharma to midwicket. The Proteas tail failed to wag and they were bowled out for 258, and set India a target of 287 for victory. "It was an unplayable delivery though from Lungi Ngidi â€" the ball angling in sharply after pitching outside off. Lungi had nearly got Kohli in the first innings with a similar delivery but an inside edge had saved Kohli.
Parthiv (five not out) took a nasty blow in the ribs from a hostile short ball from Ngidi, but the wicketkeeper and Cheteshwar Pujara (11no) were still there at the close. What they chose to do, tells you how this team tackles situations and how much it backs its bowlers.
De Villiers and Dean Elgar had put on 141 for the third wicket and were threatening to take the game away from India, but when South Africa's superstar fell for 80 it was "game on" once more.
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When they were bowled out‚ India were trailing South Arica's first inning score by 28 runs.
For India, Shami, Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya toiled hard but both du Plessis and Philander were in no hurry to score and presented the full face of the bat when the opportunity presented. It was quite understandable, considering that he was the only one to capitalise on this India-like pitch. Ravichandran Ashwin who had started off the Test on a bright note, did little of note during SA's second dig. Kohli sought a review of umpire Michael Gough's decision but replays showed the ball was crashing into the top of middle stump.
Shami struck again soon after when he had Elgar caught pulling on the square boundary for 61.
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The game had rattled along in the morning session; it almost came to a standstill after tea, with both sides sitting back and waiting for a mistake from the other.
Conditions were otherwise reasonably good to bat in, and with India also offering de Villiers release balls every now and then - width the most frequent culprit - South Africa's lead was beginning to trouble India, and their worries were compounded by Elgar's stay. But that didn't go India's way, just like many other things. Against Team India, Elgar scored another feat.
De Kock was all at sea, and Shami's 10th over proved his undoing.
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Du Plessis was the second last man out for South Africa, dismissed by a one-handed catch by Jasprit Bumrah (3-70) off his own bowling and shortly after he had dropped a similar chance from du Plessis.