But amidst all this Faf (du Plessis) remained unflappable. He’s a very special batsman as we saw in the first innings and we knew it was a massive moment to get him out. And that is largely due to Lungi Ngidi.
Shami, with 4 for 49, had the best figures, but he wasn’t India’s best bowler for large parts of the innings.
South Africa will also remember Pandya’s whirlwind 94 in Cape Town that changed the early momentum in that opening test. The uneven bounce has brought India on the mat in pursuit of 286.
The fourth day was a good example of this.
The lack of significant pace and bounce has meant South Africa have had to come up with more innovative game plans.
Conditions were otherwise reasonably good to bat in, and with India also offering de Villiers release balls every now and then – width the most frequent culprit – South Africa’s lead was beginning to trouble India, and their worries were compounded by Elgar’s stay.
He hit 15 fours at Centurion, faced 217 balls, and was at the crease for over six hours in an effort to drag his team back into the contest.
Ngidi was enjoying the spell of his life and it was no surprise when he trapped Kolhi for lbw having scored only five runs to deal India a heavy blow.
And Shami took out the well set Elgar when he pulled a short delivery to Rahul at deep square-leg. The expletive he uttered as he walked off the field was heard all around the ground.
Proteas captain Faf Du Plessis produced a calm 48 to help the hosts reach 258 all out in their second innings after seamer Mohammad Shami had taken three quick wickets before lunch on day four.
In the 47th over, Rahul fumbled again at backward short leg off R Ashwin (0-57) and this time dropped du Plessis (on 6).
Centurion: The wicket prepared for the second Test between India and South Africa at the SuperSport Park is a study in contrast to the pitches dished out over the years.
Du Plessis and Philander got to see first hand what the surface was doing for the bowlers and, as the captain and one of the key members of the pack, they shouldn’t have minded too much. At the end of the fourth day’s play, India were reduced to 35/3 while chasing 287 and they were staring at a series defeat. “We wanted to carry on but we were doing as we were told”. “Us giving them that kind of treatment and beating them here in South Africa is definitely going to be satisfying for us”, said Elgar.
“Virat is very competitive. that’s his nature”, Morkel said.
The visitors now need 252 more runs on the final day on Wednesday to win the Test with seven second innings wickets in hand. When you are playing four fast bowlers in your side, it is expected you will give them the choice of ends on what has largely been an unhelpful pitch for them. “If the shoe was on the other foot, I think we would feel quite hard done by. We were just having a word with the umpire that the ball is wet so the ball won’t swing anymore so we were having a chat about what could be done in that situation”, Bumrah said at the end of the day’s play. “We just need to crack on and try and win a Test”, he added.
Kohli had looked completely at home on this sub-continent-like Centurion strip, and for that reason his wicket was always going to be crucial. Unfortunately for Ashwin, even though he did bowl 29.3 overs, he managed to pick only one wicket and gave away 78 runs.