Mohammed Shami takes 5/44 on Day 3 and completes his 200 Test wickets in just 55 games.
Brief Scores: India 16-1 (KL Rahul 5*, M Jansen 1-4) and 327 (KL Rahul 123, M Agarwal 60, L Ngidi 6-71) lead South Africa 197 (T Bavuma 52, Q de Kock 34, M Shami 5-44) by 146 runs at Stumps on Day 3
After incessant rain washed out the second day of the Centurion Test, India aimed to play a bit more aggressively on a bright sunny day against South Africa to produce a result. Records suggest that whenever a team had scored 400+ in a Centurion Test, they had a win percentage of 83. Moreover, since 2017, no game in South Africa has a drawn result. So, a day full of action and drama beckoned spectators and players alike.
The Pitch at Super Sports Park on Day 3
The 22-yard was under covers for the whole of yesterday. With the sun shining, the pitch looked quite good for batting with true bounce. The main concern were that a few cracks had opened up in the mid-region of the track which might have raised a few questions for the batters. With India already having 272 on the board, they looked to add around 150 more to take themselves in a strong position.
India collapsed to 327-all out as Ngidi led South Africa’s fightback with 6-fer
Day 3 is always called a moving day and the game progressed rapidly thanks to an outstanding bowling display from South African bowlers guided by Lungi Ngidi who finished with a 6-fer in the first innings. The start saw India losing their overnight centurion KL Rahul. Former vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane too returned to the pavilion attempting an atrocious shot.
The same story continued for the lower-order as India, in about an hour, had lost six wickets for 36 runs. Nonetheless, the last wicket partnership of 19 runs with few boundaries pulled the score to 327 as debutant Marco Jansen finished with his maiden wicket.
Bumrah dismissed Elgar early; South Africa 21-1 at Lunch
India didn’t require to wait long as premier fast bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, drew first blood sending SA captain Dean Elgar back to the pavilion with an unplayable ball; wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant grabbed a fine catch. India would still feel strong with them being 306 runs ahead in the game.
Siraj-Shami ripped through Proteas top-order with 4 wickets
The Indian fast bowlers started the session in a fiery mode tearing the opposition top-order in the first hour and the leading man was Mohammed Shami who hit the off-stump of both Aiden Markram and Keegan Petersen. Mohammed Siraj didn’t take too long to taste his first scalp of the tour getting Rassie van der Dussen. The only concern for the tourists in that 60-minute period was the ankle issue of Jasprit Bumrah produced during his follow-through which made him to leave the field immediately.
Since then, Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock stitched up a good 72-run partnership to hold the Proteas ship. They were batting well with intent smashing the bad balls to the rope. Few balls were missing the edge of the stump but not providing them the result. At last, the golden arm, Shardul Thakur, just before the break sent back de Kock, who dragged the ball onto his stumps.
Bumrah’s presence on the field just before Tea did give India extra energy to pick up the rest of the wickets in the last session.
Shami pocketed 5-fer to pack up South Africa; India gained 130-run lead
When the final session commenced, the first target for South Africa was to avoid the follow-on and they eventually did so thanks to a fighting 16th fifty from Temba Bavuma. But he couldn’t stay longer as spectacular Mohammed Shami soon discovered the edge of his bat.
Just when it looked like the visitors would obtain a healthy lead of 160-odd runs, the tailenders frustrated them with their presence. India came back hard after the drinks break to fold up the Proteas for just 197 as Shami picked up his 6th Test 5-wicket haul.
Pant, Shami alter record books
In this process, Rishabh Pant became the fastest Indian wicketkeeper to have 100 Test dismissals in just 26 games; he surpassed his hero MS Dhoni who did it in 36 Test matches along with Wriddhiman Saha. Mohammed Shami too collected 200 Test wickets; he registered his name as the third fastest Indian pacer to do so. He even has bowled the fewest balls (9896) in reaching the milestone beating Ravichandran Ashwin (10248 balls).
India lost Agarwal; increased lead to 146 runs
Late on the day, those half an hour phases were never easy to negotiate. Even though India batted handsomely in the short duration that they did; they lost opener Mayank Agarwal on the first ball of the last over of the day bowled by debutant Marco Jansen. In this exercise, they had extended their lead to 146 runs to give a fair chance to win the Test match.
What to expect on Day 4
The weather is set to be fine for tomorrow but not so good on the last day. India should look to bat for around 50 overs to take their lead to above 300 and give their bowlers enough time to pick up ten South African wickets to be 1-0 up in the series.
For the Proteas, they have to take early wickets to make sure that the target would not escape over 250-odd. All in all, a thriller of a day awaits the followers of the game.
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