Team India are tottering in the run-chase    AFP
Team India are tottering in the run-chase AFP

In pursuit of 208, India are reeling at 82 for 7 at tea on Day Four of the first Test versus South Africa. While the openers negated early threats and added 30 for the opening stand, India faltered from thereon. Since then, the captain-deputy pair, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, kept India in the hunt courtesy a 32-run stand. However, with the skipper back in the hut, the equation read: India need 126 runs, South Africa 3 wickets.

Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay started well. With Dale Steyn out of action due to a bruised heel, Faf du Plessis commenced with Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. Philander troubled Murali Vijay who was living on the edge. Vijay shuffled and missed the length to get trapped on 1. He took the decision upstairs, and the ball was missing the stumps.

Vijay continued to survive somehow. Dhawan, on the other hand, looked positive. Against the run of play, he departed for 16. Morkel’s extra bounce got an edge off Dhawan, resulting in a simple catch. Vijay followed suit. He never looked comfortable during his stay. The opener edged an outswinger from Philander, and AB de Villiers plucked a good low catch.

Cheteshwar Pujara fell prey to a moving ball, getting an outside edge to the wicketkeeper. Rohit joined Kohli at 39 for 3. The duo added a promising stand, and were getting along well. Faf had to employ Keshav Maharaj in order to compensate for Steyn. The plan from India was to tire Morkel and Philander, and play for pace. Rohit took ample time, and Kohli looked to rotate the strike.

The script changed just when commentators questioned: are they tiring the bowlers?.

Kohli was dismissed for 28 off Philander. The skipper was trapped lbw while playing a flick. The shiny side was inside, and it hit him on the pads.

Rohit was dropped on 9 off Rabada. The right-hander got into awkward position to keep a bouncer down. However, Maharaj dropped a sitter at deep mid-wicket. The drop didn’t cost a penny. Rohit departed soon, chopping one onto the stumps by playing away from his body.

India’s lower order added 117 runs in the first innings. Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have a befitting task post tea.

Brief scores

South Africa 286 & 130 all-out (Aiden Markram 34, Dean Elgar 25, AB de Villiers 35; Mohammed Shami 3 for 28, Jasprit Bumrah 3 for 39) lead India 209 & 82 for 7 (Shikhar Dhawan 16, Virat Kohli 28; Vernon Philander 3 for 22, Kagiso Rabada 2 for 30) by 126 runs.