South Africa's Anrich Nortje smiles as he tosses the ball before bowling his next delivery during the first day of the third and last cricket Test match against India in Ranchi on Saturday. Photo: Aijaz Rahi/AP

CAPE TOWN – South Africa once again huffed, puffed but failed to blow India’s house down on the first day of the final Test in Ranchi.

After making wholesale changes to the side that were dumped by an innings in Pune last week – there were five in total – the visitors came out snorting.

Kagiso Rabada was the chief aggressor, delivering easily his best spell of the series in the morning. Having been heavily criticised of late, Rabada responded along Anrich Nortje to reduce India to 39/3.

Unfortunately for the Proteas that was as good as it got with Rohit Sharma continuing his impressive run during this series. The conversion to an opener has been an unparalleled success with Sharma striking his third century of the series to finish the day on 117 not out.

Sharma found an able partner in Ajinkya Rahane (87 not out) as the pair combined for an unbroken partnership of 185-run partnership for the fourth wicket. It could potentially have been a lot more, but stumps were drawn early after just 58 overs with India well-placed on 224/3.

Nortje, though, remained defiant and still believed that improvement shown from the seamers, particularly in the morning, was something to build on.

“We are were definitely better than the previous Test. Unfortunately we couldn’t get another wicket, it would have been nice to be four or five wickets down,” Nortje said.

“But I think in general it was a good effort by the bowlers. There was a little bit in it in the morning, and we tried to capitalise.”

It certainly was a much performance from the Warriors tearaway. After conceding 100 runs last week on debut without taking a wicket, the 25-year-old managed to snare the big scalp of Virat Kohli (12) on Saturday.

“There was a lot of adrenaline in the first Test. I just tried to stay calm and be consistent in what I needed to do. At lower levels, you can get away with a couple of bad balls. I have learnt that I need to stay focused every ball.

“I was just hoping for a wicket somewhere. I enjoyed it. I tried to run in with a plan, and hopefully get a wicket, and thankfully I got it.”

There were two further debutants this week with Heinrich Klaasen taking over the gloves from Quinton de Kock, while George Linde replaced Senuran Muthusamy.

Linde bowled 11 overs, conceded 40 runs without claiming a wicket.


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