Rabada, Jansen take four wickets each in the second innings, SA struggling at 94-4
Brief Score: South Africa 94-4 (D Elgar 52*, J Bumrah 2-22) and 197 (T Bavuma 52, Q de Kock 34, M Shami 5-44) need 211 runs to beat India 327 (KL Rahul 123, M Agarwal 60, L Ngidi 6-71) & 174 (R Pant 34, K Rabada 4-42, M Jansen 4-55) at Stumps on Day 4
Just when the Test match seemed to be running towards a boring draw, Indian pacers breathed fire led by Mohammad Shami’s 5-44 as India regained control in Centurion after a poor batting collapse in the first hour on Day 3. They began Day 4 aiming at a 300-run target for South Africa given how foul the weather was set to be on the last day.
The Proteas aimed to focus on restricting the tourists on a light score to keep fortress Centurion intact. On the whole, the day was critical for the fate of the game.
The 22-yard at SuperSports Park on Day 4
The pitch had certainly begun to change its colour as one could expect. The cracks just around the good length area had started to open up thanks to the scorching heat of the sun. Generally, it was still a good batting surface but there would be some uneven bounce going deep into the day. No batter would be set on this kind of a surface.
Kohli-Pujara took India’s lead over 200 after losing two early wickets
The session was a very slow run-scoring period in which India recorded just 63 runs in 26 overs losing two early wickets. But just like the other days, they battled hard against some quality pace bowling from South Africa. Earlier in the morning, Kagiso Rabada got rid of the nightwatchman, Shardul Thakur but missed a chance to send back out of form Cheteshwar Pujara, dropping a sitter.
First innings centurion KL Rahul was finding the uneven bouncy ball hard to deal with and ultimately nicked a short delivery to walk back to the pavilion for 23. Since then, India captain Virat Kohli and Pujara increased the lead over the 200-run mark. Although, the visiting leader survived a close review, he did look good for his 18* (at lunch) including four boundaries.
With wickets in hand, India would have looked to score a bit freely to give the tired Protea batters a short burst before Tea against the red cherry. Read More: SA vs Ind, 1st Test, Freedom Trophy 2021-22: Shami’s 5-44 shoots out SA; India 146 runs ahead
Pant-Rahane handy knocks set challenging 305-run target for South Africa
On the very first delivery of the post-lunch session, Kohli holed out chasing another wide delivery outside off stump. Soon, Pujara followed him too. Ajinkya Rahane played solidly for his 20 as did Ravichandran Ashwin but a quickfire 34 (34) from Rishabh Pant launched India’s lead around 300.
Considering how Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen, both of whom finished with four wickets each in the second innings, had troubled the Indian batters with uneven bounce even with a 45-over old ball, the target would be gold given the forecast of foul weather on the last day.
Only once in Test history has any team chased a 300+ target against India successfully and that was Australia hunting 339 at the WACA back in 1977-78. On the flipside of the coin, South Africa have just one successful chase of over 300-runs in the fourth innings of a home Test - 335 vs Australia in Durban in 2001-02.
India dismissed Markram early before Petersen-Elgar settled nerves
The first innings hero with the ball, Mohammad Shami, wasted just two balls before picking up opener Aiden Markram who dragged a short ball onto his stumps. Since then, both Keegan Petersen and SA captain Dean Elgar patiently negotiated the Indian class bowling unit. But with the uneven nature of the track, they would have felt unsafe out there in the middle.
Elgar notches fighting unbeaten Fifty; India six wickets away from famous win in Centurion
South Africa batters for most of the last session had shown tough character batting patiently and copped up several blows on their body against a fired up Indian pace bowling unit. The visitors began the session brightly sending Keegan Petersen back to the dressing room. Since then, Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen batted firmly putting the bad balls to the rope.
The Indian shoulders were dropping and captain Virat Kohli required an inspirational spell to end the day. There came Jasprit Bumrah; first he set up van der Dussen with outswingers before knocking his off stump with a country-mile inswinger. On the very last ball of the day, he managed to uproot the leg-stump of the nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj with a magical delivery.
In between those incidents, Protea captain stood tall with a fighting half-century and his team would want him to carry on with the same spirit on the last day. Read More: SA vs Ind, 1st Test, Freedom Trophy 2021-22: KL Rahul's 122* helps India to 272-3
What to Expect on Day 5
It is a simple equation going forward; India need six wickets whereas South Africa will look to knock off the 211 runs required to win, however improbable that might seem. In between all this, only some poor weather forecast on the last day could spoil the fun of the cricket fans.
Even though, if given around 30-40 overs, India certainly have the attack to get the last South African wickets.
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