Africa for 258; need 287 to clinch second Test

Africa for 258; need 287 to clinch second Test

Day 5 will provide the answer but at 35 for three in pursuit of 287, even the most ardent optimist is unlikely to give the batting side too much of a chance to achieve the target. "With the ball keeping low, reverse swing, those are the options we will discuss tomorrow".

The highest fourth-innings score at Centurion is 251-8 by England in 2000, although that was in the discredited Test where both teams forfeited innings at the suggestion of South African captain Hansie Cronje. Technically, the South African batsmen are far more adept on playing or for that matter leaving the ball than the Indian batters, and that came to the fore once more. But the way they are going, even that would have been hard.

India was facing a record run chase at Centurion, or the prospect of surviving for an entire day without its best player, to stay alive in the three-test series, which South Africa leads 1-0. He did not even come on to bowl when he had the chance of taking a five-wicket haul. So you cannot mind that, but yes, sometimes you do feel inside that maybe I could have got five wickets.

If that proves enough, South Africa won't care whether they got there in conditions which seemed closer to India or not. But India's bowlers kept plugging away, and though the fielding still wasn't top notch, apart from de Villiers, no batsman could consistently dominate the bowling. "We can only try and then the rest is dependent on luck".

It was battle of attrition and the partnership did leave India frustrated before Philander pulled Ishant into square-leg's hands.

Allrounder Hardik Pandya was 11 not out alongside Kohli at stumps and India was still some way off parity.

Earlier, Mohammad Shami (4/49) and Ishant Sharma (2/40) in the second session did the damage to restrict South Africa, overnight 90/2, to 258 all out in their second innings.

Ashwin, who kept getting the ball to dip into awkward areas and turn sharply, almost had a wicket in the over after Elgar's dismissal. "It's massive for us and I think it's massive for India, knowing he is not batting". On the third day, Morne Morkel said it was "100%" like bowling in India. First ball of his second spell, de Villiers tapped him past wide slip for a boundary but Shami quickly found his line this time.

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Asked about the slip catching that has been below-par for some time now, Shami asked not to read too much into the dropped catches. "We wanted to carry on but the things didn't work out so it's okay", Bumrah added. And on the fourth day, Dean Elgar said it was "disappointing" to play on a surface like this at home.

But Du Plessis and Rabada managed to see out the last six overs of the session. "It was to take it as deep as possible, get their bowlers to bowl a lot of overs", he added. "If the shoe was on the other foot, I think we would feel quite hard done by".

The International Cricket Council said in a statement Tuesday that Kohli argued with umpire Michael Gough after play resumed following a rain delay on Day 3 at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

"It's a little disappointing to have a wicket of this nature because it's not what we would choose to play a subcontinental side on, but so be it, we are done complaining about it".

The debutant Lungi Ngidi also got the prize wicket of Indian skipper Virat Kohli as he struck him in front. What he did in the first innings was very special, but he's human so he can also fail. We just need to execute our processes.

The target set at 287, and with two hours left to play, Du Plessis knew a couple of wickets would send shivers down the opposition spine. Our fast bowlers thrive on bowling on wickets like this.

Both of them looked bright and maintained a very healthy rate in the first hour of the day with boundaries coming their way easily at regular intervals.

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