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SA vs Ind, 2nd Test, Freedom Trophy 2021-22: Dean Elgar-led SA holding fort, at 118-2 chasing 240

South Africa need 122 runs to win with eight wickets in hand at Johannesburg.

SA vs Ind, 2nd Test, Freedom Trophy 2021-22: Dean Elgar-led South Africa holding fort, at 118-2 chasing 240
Elgar-Petersen added 46 runs for second wicket on Day 3 (©AFPviaGettyImages)

Brief Scores: South Africa 118-2 (D Elgar 46*, R Ashwin 1-14) & 229 (K Petersen 62, T Bavuma 51, S Thakur 7-61) need 122 runs to beat India 202 (KL Rahul 50, R Ashwin 46, M Jansen 4-31, K Rabada 3-64) & 266 (A Rahane 58, C Pujara 53, L Ngidi 3-43)

On a wonderful day of Test cricket yesterday, Shardul Thakur injected new life to India with career-best figures of 7-61 against South Africa who ended up taking a little lead in the first innings. But the positive Indian batters didn’t waste much time to finish the day with a 58-run advantage. With every run after the 230-mark, the home captain, Dean Elgar started to look a bit nervous about the chase.

The 22-yards at Wanderers on Day 3

Nothing odd was expected on a Day 3 strip at Wanderers. The bright sunshine had dried it up and eventually few of the cracks would open up as the day would progress. There was a chance of some spin with footmarks of the fast bowlers but the variable bounce could be the hardest for a batter to negotiate.

Session 1: Rabada breathes fire in run-flowing session; India stretch lead to 161

Two batters perhaps playing for their careers, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, began the day from where they left yesterday. Runs were coming with ease; both were not worried about playing their aggressive shots as India looked like ruining the host’s party. A total of 66 runs were scored in just 14 overs in the initial hour as both Rahane and Pujara notched up their respective career-saving half-centuries; the energy level of the South-Africans was observed to be flat to say the least.

Then arrived Kagiso Rabada with an inspirational spell. First, he removed Rahane with a beautiful away-going bouncer before getting Pujara plumb before the stumps. At that point, India would have wanted some fight from their middle-order but Rishabh Pant played an absolutely careless shot to get dismissed for zero. In the last over before Lunch, Ravichandran Ashwin got a faint edge on the leg-side.

In just an hour, India collapsed from 155-2 to 184-6 with a 161-run lead and the game was nicely poised but South Africa would have their nose ahead.

Session 2: Indian lower-order helped to set South Africa a 240-run target

Well, it appeared that South Africa would steamroll the Indian lower-order quite easily. But India added 82-runs for the last four wickets to throw the Proteas a target of 240. Shardul Thakur’s aggressive batting and then Hanuma Vihari’s smart batting with the tail perhaps supplied India the score they were looking for.

Tough ask for South Africa?

The behaviour of the pitch suggested that it would be a laborious job for the South Africans who would aim for the third-best 4th innings chase at the Wanderers. Also, since their readmission, they had chased 240 or more in Home Tests once (355 vs Australia, 2001-2002). Also, only two teams (West Indies and Australia) have registered successful chases of more than 240 in the fourth innings against India.

South Africa raced away to 34-0 till Tea break; still needing 206 runs to win

The home openers, Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram, came out with positive intent with so many scoring shots. As many as six boundaries were hit in this 25-minute period as they settled the initial nerves to cross their highest opening partnership against India in 13 innings. Few balls did keep low but certainly it would be a challenge for KL Rahul, the India captain, in setting the field placements under pressure.

Session 3: Tenacious Dean Elgar keeps South Africa steady in huge chase; still need 122 runs to win

After a solid aggressive opening partnership, India’s rescue man, Shardul Thakur provided the tourists a much-needed breakthrough to get back in the game; Markram due to the low bounce found himself plumb before the wickets. Even though India revelled at their chances given the small opening, youngster Keegan Petersen and skipper Dean Elgar made sure that they won’t repeat the same mistake committed in Centurion.

Both of them stitched up a good-looking partnership before Ravichandran Ashwin broke the stand becoming only the second Indian spinner after Anil Kumble to pick up a Test wicket at Wanderers. Again, India came with full force but failed to make another inroad as opposition leader Elgar stood tall before the fired up Indian pace bowlers (sans Siraj), taking regular body-blows.

KL Rahul’s captaincy was under the scanner and he didn’t score enough marks in the exam. So, he would look to be certainly more attacking on the fourth day of the Test.

What to look ahead on Day 4

A very simple equation stands between the two sides; South Africa need 122 runs to level the series, whereas India would aim to get eight wickets to register their maiden Test series victory on South African soil. The Indian bowlers along with their captain will be tested against a gritty Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma, if required. All in all, an exciting day of Test Cricket waits for the fans.

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