Proteas start better‚ but end in familiar funk
Some things changed but others remained the same for struggling South Africa in their men’s Test series in India in Ranchi on Saturday.
Temba Bavuma accompanied Faf du Plessis to the middle for the toss and spun the coin to start the third match of the series‚ but Virat Kohli still earned the right to decide what his team would do first.
And‚ as they did when the same plot unfolded in the first two games‚ India batted.
But‚ unlike earlier in the series — which the home side have already won — they lost three wickets in little more than the first hour.
Then normal service resumed‚ and when bad light ended play six overs after tea India were 224/3 with Rohit Sharma undefeated on 117 — his third century in four innings — and Ajinkya Rahane 83 not out.
India made one change‚ replacing fast bowler Ishant Sharma with debutant Shahbaz Nadeem.
South Africa cleared their bench‚ giving debuts to Heinrich Klaasen and George Linde — who came in for the injured Aiden Markram and Keshav Maharaj — and dropping Theunis de Bruyn‚ Vernon Philander and Senuran Muthusamy in favour of Zubayr Hamza‚ Lungi Ngidi and Dane Piedt.
Quinton de Kock‚ who has relinquished the wicketkeeping gloves to Klaasen‚ will fill the vacancy Markram left at the top of the order.
And when Kagiso Rabada removed Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara inside nine overs‚ and Anrich Nortjé did for Kohli — and all with only 39 scored — it seemed all that changed had helped South Africa turn a corner.
But the South Africans were reeled in‚ starting with Hamza dropping a difficult chance at short leg that would have earned Linde his first wicket with just his third delivery.
Had the catch been taken Sharma would have been out for 28‚ his partnership with Rahane would have been snuffed out for 21‚ and India would have been 60/4 with the best of their batting gone.
Instead Sharma and Rahane took their stand to 185‚ a record for India’s fourth wicket against South Africa‚ and will continue it on Sunday.
Sharma‚ whose first 50 took him 86 deliveries and the second only 44‚ became the first India opener since Sunil Gavaskar against West Indies in 1978 to bank more than two centuries in a series.
No-one has hit more sixes in Test cricket this year than Sharma’s 17‚ and no bowler has been hammered for as many sixes by one batter in a series in Test history as Piedt has by Sharma: 11.
Rabada took 2/15 in a fine first spell of seven overs‚ four of them maidens‚ and ended the day with 2/54 from 14 having added one more maiden.