JOHANNESBURG – India took advantage of some lax bowling and fielding by South Africa to gradually gain the upper hand in the third and final Sunfoil Test here on Wednesday.
At tea, the tourists were 114/4, with Cheteshwar Pujara on 27 and Parthiv Patel yet to score.
The South Africans were made to pay for some bad errors that included dropping Virat Kohli twice and dismissing Rahane off a no-ball.
Pujara and the Indian captain resumed in the afternoon on 45/2, and while conditions were not as testing as in the first session, there was nevertheless still assistance from the surface for the bowlers.
The trouble for the South Africans was that they weren’t good enough to properly utilise them.
Too often the Proteas bowlers’ lengths were too short. Kohli continued with the good form he showed when scoring 153 in the second Test at Centurion last week, driving the ball beautifully.
He registered his 16th Test half-century and an innings that, while it had its moments of luck, was also superbly crafted otherwise.
He was dropped by Vernon Philander in the morning on 11, and then almost inexplicably by good mate AB de Villiers on 32, with Kohli slashing at a wide delivery that he ‘toe-ended’ to De Villiers at third slip.
What should have been a simple catch for one of the game’s best fielders was missed.
It fell to Lungi Ngidi, South Africa’s best bowler on the opening day, to dismiss Kohli with one that left the right-hander off the pitch and which was edged to De Villiers, who took a good catch while tumbling over backwards.
The Indian captain scored 54 (146 minutes, 106 balls, 9x4).
His partnership with Pujara was a valuable 84, helping India to take control after Kohli had chosen to bat upon winning the toss.
Rahane was beautifully set up and then ‘dismissed’ by Philander lbw until television replays showed the South African all-rounder failed to keep some part of his left heel behind the line.
It was a mistake that didn’t prove too costly, with Rahane only able to add six more runs before Morné Morkel trapped him lbw for nine shortly before the tea interval.