Indian skipper Virat Kohli finally got a significant score against his name while Ajinkya Rahane continued his good match as India reached an impressive 190 for 4 on a slow day, finishing with an impressive lead of 403 with two full days in hand. Kohli and Rahane were the stars of the day for India as they featured in a 133-run fifth wicket stand, the first century alliance of the series. South Africa began well courtesy Morne Morkel, who struck three key blows early in the day. India were struggling at 57 for 4 when Rahane and captain Kohli joined forces.
Although India were always going to be in command having gained a 213-run first innings lead, the early strikes gave South Africa an outside hope of reducing India to somewhere in the region of 150, and thus chasing less than 400 in the final innings. It would still have been tough, but with more than two days to go, the Proteas could have hoped for a miracle. The efforts of Kohli and Rahane, however, have completely put them out of the match now, leaving them with too much to do to save the Test, and prevent a 3-0 defeat.
After a disastrous Friday, day three began on a positive note for the Proteas thanks to Morkel. He dismissed Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma off consecutive deliveries as India found themselves at 8 for 2. Vijay was adjudged caught behind off a well-directed Morkel bouncer. As the ball rose towards his face, Vijay lifted his bat up. The ball hit the arm-guard and was held behind the wickets. Kumar Dharmasena lifted his finger to which Vijay pointed at his arm-guard. By the time you read this, Vijay may have visited the match-referee.
Very next ball, Morkel ensured Rohit’s horror series continued. The much-criticised decision to have hit bat at number three was back in place, but the move only lasted one ball. A delivery which pitched on off-stump, straightened slightly, enough to beat Rohit’s bat and crash into the stumps. At the other end, Shikhar Dhawan had batted with patience for his 21. He had held himself back nicely having faced 85 balls. But, the next delivery Morkel cleaned him up with a full, fast delivery. Cheteshwar Pujara’s poor series also continued as Imran Tahir bowled him with a quick leg-break that he could not keep out.
Like in the first innings, Kohli and Rahane looked most comfortable out in the middle. They too had their nervous moments early. Rahane inside edged a couple of deliveries against the spinners, but had luck on his side and survived. Apart from Vijay, Kohli too showed what may be seen as dissent against the umpire after Bruce Oxenford gave him caught behind against Tahir. Replays however showed he hadn’t edged it, and Tahir’s foot too had landed beyond the crease. After settling in though, Kohli and Rahane proceeded to put India into a commanding position.
--By A Cricket Correspondent