India vs South Africa 2019, 2nd Test, Day 3: Men in Blue move closer to series-win despite visitors’ fightback
India are in a strong position to seal the ongoing Test series against South Africa, despite a heroic fightback from the visitors. India had amassed 601-5 in their first innings and then went on to bowl South Africa out for 275 late on day three.
Earlier on Saturday, South Africa had resumed their innings at 34-3.
They were forced to face the Indian pace battery at its zenith before lunch. Boosted by their success the previous day, Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami bowled with good pace and carry and troubled the South African batsmen.
India's great start to the day
It did not take the duo long to make its first breakthrough. Nightwatchman Anrich Nortje’s stay at the crease was cut short prematurely when he was caught at slip, to make the score 41-4.
Meanwhile, Theunis de Bruyn looked very comfortable at the crease. He played a few exquisite shots, which included cover drives and a straight drive. But he was dismissed unexpectedly in the 21st over by Umesh Yadav (53-5).
India capture De Kock's wicket
South Africa needed a substantial partnership to get the innings back on track. Captain Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock nearly did so, scoring 75 runs for the sixth wicket, but should have doubled their partnership.
The pair was in a positive mood from the start.
De Kock played a picture-perfect cover-drive in the 32nd over and then held his pose for the cameras. Du Plessis smashed a six over long-off’s head in the next over. He then asserted himself at the crease, scoring a flurry of boundaries in the space of a few overs.
Du Plessis, particularly, employed the sweep shot with great success.
But then de Kock was bowled by an Ashwin-special, to make the score 128-6. South Africa lost three wickets for 36 runs as India strengthened their grip on the match.
Philander and Maharaj's defiant batting
The visitors looked down and out. But heroic resistance came from unlikely sources. Vernon Philander, the number eight batsman, and Keshav Maharaj, number nine, turned partners in crime as they defied India’s bowlers.
Maharaj, who loves to play the big shots, reigned in his natural instincts and showed grit and determination. Philander, at the other end, looked rock-solid at the crease.
After a few hours, India got frustrated and started bowling wayward. Maharaj capitalised on the ill-discipline and played a few delectable cut shots.
He brought up his 50 with a push to the leg-side in the 91st over. Maharaj soon departed for 72, but he had exceeded everybody’s expectations.
The pair’s partnership consisted of 109 runs.
Philander remained resolute and was unbeaten on 44 when the last wicket fell. South Africa will have to improve vastly in their second innings.