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India close in on victory in the first Test as Proteas struggle with the bat

Temba Bavuma bats during the first Test match between South Africa and India at SuperSport Park. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Temba Bavuma bats during the first Test match between South Africa and India at SuperSport Park. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Dec 30, 2021


Stuart Hess at SuperSport Park

Centurion - India closed in on a historic first Test win here on Thursday morning, picking up three wickets in the opening session on the final day.

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Should they finish it off - before the forecast rain gets here - India would become just the third side to beat South Africa at this venue, which over the years has become a fortress for the home side.

At lunch, South Africa was in deep trouble on 182/7, the remaining 123 runs needed to win, now an impossibility. The new ball, should they even need it, will be available to India an hour into the next session.

The Proteas’ best hope is that the steady breeze which blew over the ground throughout the morning, accelerates the arrival of that thunderstorm. Thick clouds are building up towards the south of the ground, from where the rain usually arrives.

Once again the morning was dominated by the Indian seamers, with Jasprit Bumrah continuing from where he left off on Wednesday evening, with another magnificent burst from the West Lane End.

Again he had the ball slanting into the batters - from around the wicket to Dean Elgar and over the wicket to Temba Bavuma, as he tried to replicate the magic ball that dismissed Rassie van der Dussen on fourth evening.

While constantly challenged by some wonderfully accurate bowling, Elgar and Bavuma played nicely through the first 50 minutes of the day. The South African captain offered Mohammed Shami a chance on 63, when drove the ball back to him, but while completing his follow-through, Shami wasn’t able to position his hands properly to complete the catch.

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Bumrah created a half chance off an outside edge that flew passed Virat Kohli at second slip in the next over, illustrating the kind of pressure the Indians were creating.

In what felt like being the last over of Bumrah’s spell, the Indian fielders, with very loud backing from their dressing room, increased the volume and intensity, with Bumrah getting one to hold its line from around the wicket before thudding into Elgar’s front pad. The Proteas skipper understandably reviewed, however the DRS, came up with three reds confirming on-field umpire Adrian Holdstock’s decision.

Elgar’s innings of 77 lasted five minutes short of four hours and was a typically gutsy effort, which featured blows on the body in between him striking 12 fours.

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Bavuma, who was not out on 34 at lunch, was watchful again, as was the case in the first innings, and unleashed some lovely drives, on those rare occasions when the Indians erred in length.

Quinton de Kock’s was another poor innings, following his dreary effort in the first, as he constantly flirted outside off-stump, and almost as if he’d willed it so, he chopped the ball onto his stumps off Mohammed Siraj’s bowling after making 21. He won’t be playing in the remainder of the series, due to the impending birth of his first child, with Kyle Verreynne set to feature at the Wanderers and Newlands.

Wiaan Mulder didn’t last long, edging another Shami special through to Rishabh Pant after making just one. His place for the second Test is surely going to be a matter for debate given how well Marco Jansen has performed here and with Duanne Olivier set to be available at the ‘Bullring.’

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