India are on top after end of Day 3    AFP
India are on top after end of Day 3 AFP

India have a realistic chance of remaining unbeaten in Johannesburg. They are only 9 wickets away from winning the third and final Test versus South Africa, and make the scoreline 1-2. In pursuit of 241, South Africa are 17 for 1, losing Aiden Markram.

India commenced with a lead of 192 runs after tea. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ajinkya Rahane continued to add runs down the order. South Africa were desperate for a breakthrough, and got lucky with their third appeal since resumption. A delivery drifting down the leg side got a thin edge from Rahane. Nonetheless, the vice-captain scored a courageous 48 (worthy of a hundred in an awkward pitch like this). Bhuvneshwar, beaming in confidence by then, stitched another handy stand with Mohammed Shami. Sensing anything over 200 would be tough to chase, Shami was given the license to go all-out.

The ploy worked as Shami scored a run-a-ball cameo, and reminded IPL franchise owners of his worth a day prior to the auction. Trying to up the ante, Bhuvneshwar and Shami departed. South Africa bowlers were rotated, and managed to restrict India for 247 amidst sloppy fielding and lethargic approach.

Faf du Plessis demanded for groundsmen to bring on the rollers in order to flatten the pitch. In the hindsight, it could have opened up the cracks as well.

Aiden Markram fell cheaply. Flirting with a rising short of a length delivery, Shami got a thick edge from his blade.

Note: The decision to open with Bhuvneshwar and Shami was a good one. Shami had loosened up due to his batting stint, and looked in good rhythm following a pep talk with Ravi Shastri.

At stumps, South Africa still need 224 runs for a memorable victory. Over to AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis!

Wait, there is more to it…

Umpires were seen involved in various discussions regarding the future of the Test courtesy the wayward nature of the pitch during day’s play. This even led to early stumps. Both captains had a chat with match referee. India for sure want to continue playing but the umpires will take the final call tomorrow before the start of the day’s play.

India would hope for no hindrance, and press hard for victory come Saturday.

Brief scores

India 187 & 247 (Murali Vijay 25, Virat Kohli 41, Ajinkya Rahane 48, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 33; Vernon Philander 3 for 61, Kagiso Rabada 3 for 69, Morne Morkel 3 for 47) lead South Africa 194 & 17 for 1 (Dean Elgar 11*, Mohammed Shami 1 for 7) by 224 runs.