AFP
AFP

Chal Laala. Aise hi rakh. Come on lads. Awaaz aaya hai. Ek ball khela de. (Come on Shami. Keep it like this. There was a sound. Make him play at least one ball).

The energetic Virat Kohli was infecting his teammates in the morning session of Day Four versus South Africa. Trailing overnight by 142 runs, India needed wickets at regular intervals to keep South Africa under check. Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah‘s hit-the-deck ploy found frequent edges. As a result, South Africa were bundled out for 130. India require 208 to attain a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

The session commenced with nightwatchmen Kagiso Rabada and Hashim Amla at the crease. Amla’s woeful form against India (he averages 13.88 since the 2015 series) continued. He edged one off Shami, and Rohit Sharma plucked a low catch at gully. The effort showed India’s mindset on the field, with an otherwise laidback Rohit being on his toes.

India continued to make the batsmen play by hitting the deck. Shami and Bumrah bowled with good pace and were assisted with slips and wide gully. Rabada followed suit. A short-of-length delivery, which angled slightly in, found Rabada’s blade. Kohli’s celebrations rubbed off his teammates and they meant business.

Faf du Plessis failed to open his account. A Bumrah delivery got extra bounce, and Faf poked one to the wicketkeeper. From 52 for no loss, South Africa were tottering at 82 for 5 despite a 77-run lead. The downward spiral deepened. Quinton de Kock could have been run out early had Shikhar Dhawan been more accurate with his throw. De Kock’s thick edge then resulted in his long walk back to the pavillion.

Vernon Philander was trapped lbw off an inswinger which rushed off the seam. Shami and Bumrah ripped apart South Africa’s middle order, but AB de Villiers remained a threat. He played an upper-cut off a rising delivery off Shami, with no third-man. De Villiers remained positive and looked to score runs regularly. He added a brief stand with Keshav Maharaj, but the latter departed for 15. Morne Morkel edged to the wicketkeeper, off Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Dale Steyn, battling his bruised heel, came out to bat. However, the last-wicket stand proved nothing as de Villiers was caught at deep mid-wicket.

India pacers again rose to the occasion, and have limited the target to 208. Nonetheless, they cannot afford to relax in front of an attack comprising of Rabada, Morne Morkel and Philander. Steyn’s availability looks dicey.

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 (Cheteshwar Pujara 26, Hardik Pandya 93, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 25; Vernon Philander 3 for 33, Kagiso Rabada 3 for 34) by 207 runs.