India began their tour of South Africa in a spectacular fashion, piling up 272/3 by the end of day one in the Centurion Test. Indian openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal punished the South African attack and put India in a strong position.
The weather frustrated the visitors on the second day as the play was abandoned without a ball being bowled after it rained at regular intervals. Rahul (122*) and Ajinkya Rahane (40*) resumed India’s first innings on day three. They suffered a heavy collapse but at the end of day’s play, India were in a commanding position, having taken a lead of 146 runs with two days to go.
India were bowled out for 327 in the first innings but ended up taking a huge lead after bundling out the visitors for just 197. When the day’s play ended, the visitors were 1 down for 16.
Here we take a look at some key talking points from the third day’s play of the Centurion Test.
From 272/3 to 327, India with a good old collapse
When day three began, the Indian camp would’ve hoped to get a massive total on the board to bat only once and force the result. But things went dramatically bad for the visitors in the first hour. Kagiso Rabada landed the first blow in the fourth over of the day as Rahul was caught behind after adding just one run, trying to pull a short delivery down the leg side.
Rahane, who scored 48, was the next man to go as Lungi Ngidi found his edge with some extra bounce off the surface. Ravichandran Ashwin (4), Rishabh Pant (8) and Shardul Thakur (4) were dismissed in the next three consecutive overs. India’s pacers Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj added 26 crucial runs between them.
The Indian batting unit lost seven wickets for just 49 runs in little over one hour. Ngidi and Rabada snared six of those. Ngidi finished with 6 for 71 while Rabada picked 3 for 72.
Indian pace battery dismantles SA top order
India currently possesses their best ever fast bowling attack and it was on display at Centurion from the get go. India’s spearhead Jasprit Bumrah snared the Protea skipper in the very first over as Dean Elgar edged a good length angled across delivery to the keeper.
South Africa managed to not lose another wicket before Lunch with 25 runs on the board. But Shami struck on the third delivery after the break as Keegan Petersen (15) chopped on an incoming ball. Shami then bowled a peach of a delivery to Aiden Markram (13), angling in but seaming away late to hit the top of off.
Ever energetic Siraj joined into the act soon, dismissing Rassie van der Dussen as the batter poked at a wide delivery only to hand Rahane an easy low catch at gully. The pace trio reduced the home side to 4 for 32 inside 13 overs.
Jasprit Bumrah’s injury scare
The hearts of millions of Indian supporters skipped a beat when their lead pacer Bumrah collapsed down on the ground in his followthrough. On the fifth delivery of his sixth over, Bumrah twisted his ankle badly. Fortunately for India, he was able to walk off the field on his own.
Bumrah did come back on the field before Tea, at the end of 34th over of the innings. He looked a bit ginger for a while and didn’t bowl until 61st over. When he did come on to bowl, he looked comfortable and even bowled his usual speeds of 135-140 kmph. So all’s well with the Indian speedster.
Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock rebuild the innings
Quinton de Kock was given a reprieve early in his innings when Rahul dropped him in the slip cordon. Temba Bavuma and de Kock tried to rebuild the innings and stitched together a 72-run partnership for the fifth wicket. De Kock scored 34 runs and even smashed Ashwin for a six over long-off. The duo took the team past the 100-run mark.
Just when it looked like the Saffers were on their way to put up a good total, Shardul Thakur struck. The man who is known for producing breakthroughs out of nowhere, did his magic again as de Kock chopped on trying to dab it towards third man.
Bavuma stands tall, the tail wags but India gets a big lead
Temba Bavuma was the best batter on display for the home side. He scored 52 runs and added important partnerships with de Kock and Wiaan Mulder. However, he could make a big one as he nicked a delivery soon after reaching his fifty.
South Africa’s batting depth came in handy, with Marco Jensen, Rabada and Keshav Maharaj adding 53 runs for the last three wickets. But India still managed a good first innings lead of 130 runs.
Jensen managed to struck late in the day, dismissing Agarwal caught behind but India remain in the driving seat with a 146-run lead.
Shami bowling masterclass
Mohammed Shami, who has often been a subject of criticism, ran through the Protea batting unit. He picked 5 for 44, snaring the wickets of Markram, Petersen, Bavuma, Mulder and Rabada.
With this five-for, Shami also became the fifth Indian pacer to join the 200-wicket club in Test cricket. Shami has taken these wickets in 103 innings at an average of 27.10. The other four pacers in the list are Kapil Dev, Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan and Jawagal Srinath.