Capetown: At the end of the fourth day’s play, the score read 35/3 with Cheteshwar Pujara (11) and Parthiv Patel (5) at the crease. The visitors need another 252 to win this one with seven wickets in the bag. It will be a crucial first hour for both teams on the fifth morning as they will look to grab early advantage and set the tone for the rest of the day. Pujara will have to play out of his gut to take the Indians home in this one.
After bundling out South Africa for 258 in the second essay – thanks to Mohammed Shami (4/49) and Jasprit Bumrah (3/70) – India came out to bat with three and a half sessions to get the runs. Despite starting on a cautious note, India opener Murali Vijay was the first one to become a victim of the variable bounce on the fourth evening as one from Kagiso Rabada almost skid through to take the bottom edge of Vijay’s bat and crash into the leg stump.
KL Rahul left soon after with the score on 16 as he almost gave catching practice to Keshav Maharaj off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi. With Rahul (4) gone, it was Virat Kohli’s turn to join Cheteshwar Pujara in the middle.
But the variable bounce did Kohli (5) in as well, with Lungi picking his second one. The DRS couldn’t save Kohli as that was plumb. It couldn’t have been a better end to the day for the hosts than seeing the India skipper back in the hut. Luckily for India, Parthiv Patel took some blows and fought it out to ensure that no further damage was done.
Earlier, it was two innings of complete contrast that helped South Africa reach 258 in their second essay. While AB de Villiers hit a classy 80 off 121 balls with 10 boundaries during his 156 minute stay at the crease, skipper Faf du Plessis showed his dead bat skills as he batted for 222 minutes, played out 101 dot balls to finally score 48 off 141 balls with four hits to the boundary.
Du Plessis missed out on a well-deserved fifty when a slower one from Jasprit Bumrah gripped on the wicket and took the inner edge of the bat to land straight into the hands of the bowler.