Defiant Dean Elgar puts South Africa in pole position in chase of 240

Defiant Dean Elgar puts South Africa in pole position in chase of 240

The ebb and flow of Test cricket was on full display during day three of the second Test at the Wanderers, with both teams trading blows in a pulsating contest between bat and ball. India started the day on top with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane scoring career-saving half-centuries before the Proteas hit back through Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi to bowl India out for 266. In reply, South Africa ended the day at 118 for two, with Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen still at the crease as the hosts need 122 more runs to level the series at 1-1.

India began the day on the front foot with the two veteran batters Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara carrying on from their onslaught on the second evening and taking the charge to the South African seamers. Having noticed the tricky nature of the Wanderers surface due to the uneven bounce and cracks, the Indian batsman made a concerted effort to score quickly on this pitch to set a substantial fourth innings target.

The pair scored 63 runs in the first 12 overs of the morning, with Rahane creaming the ball elegantly through the covers while also sending one uppercut over the ropes for six. Both batters reached their half-centuries in quick succession to take India’s lead closer to 150.

However, just as the Men in Blue started to creep into the ascendency, South Africa counterpunched through Kagiso Rabada, with the seamer getting one to jump off a length and catch Ajinkya Rahane’s outside edge to end the 111-run partnership. Cheteshwar Pujara followed soon after, falling prey to an in-ducker from Rabada that rapped him on the pads.

India’s troubles worsened when a careless shot saw Rishabh Pant dismissed for a duck by Rabada before Ashwin departed for just 16 to leave the Men in Blue reeling at 184 for six. However, Shardul Thakur continued his stellar Test match to score a superb 28-run cameo while Hanuma Vihari batted excellently alongside the tail to give the tourists 240 runs to defend in the fourth innings.

South Africa got off to the perfect start to their run chase, with the openers following Pujara and Rahane’s mantra from earlier in the day and taking the aggressive route. Aiden Markram hit six boundaries in his 38-ball 31 before Shardul Thakur trapped him lbw to pick up his eighth wicket in the match. Elgar shared a 47-run partnership with Markram and added a further 46 runs with Keegan Petersen in incredibly challenging batting conditions caused by the variable bounce.

Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Keegan Petersen with one that spun sharply, but the Proteas ended the day with their noses in front, needing 122 runs for victory with eight wickets still in the tank.