A 119-run partnership for the second wicket between Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla has turned the third and final Sunfoil Test in the homeside’s favour.
At tea South Africa were on 136/3 still needing 105 runs to achieve what would be an amazing win on a pitch where the uncomfortable bounce has grabbed the headlines.
However midway through Saturday afternoon, the pitch had stood up reasonably well, and until Amla was hit on the hand by Ishant Sharma three balls before he was dismissed, the SA team’s physio, Craig Govender had been a spectator for most of the day.
It was a blow to the head of Dean Elgar which brought a premature end to the day’s play on Friday evening and had the umpires concerned for the safety of the players. Late on Friday it was decided that the match could go ahead and it is turned into a gripping contest.
Elgar, who had to pass two concussion tests, one on Friday and another before play on Saturday, is quite remarkably in those circumstances still batting, not out on 61, while South African captain Faf du Plessis, only recently arrived to the crease has yet to score.
India struck two massive blows in the final 20 minutes before tea, when Hardik Pandya held onto a difficult catch at short midwicket to dismiss Hashim Amla for 52 (240m, 140b, 5x4) and then Jasprit Bumrah had AB de Villiers caught in the gully by Ajinkya Rahane for 6. It’s the third time in the series Bumrah has dismissed South Africa’s star no.4 batsman.
The session had been dominated by Elgar and Amla, whose stunning partnership sent jitters down India spines. It was tense stuff, but the pair showed excellent judgement and skill, to get on top of the India bowlers.
There is still plenty of assistance in the pitch for the seamers, with the ball still beating the outside edge, while Elgar in particular, has had to fight against the demons in his head and those from the surface. Elgar has faced an astonishing 181 balls in this innings an achievement in itself given how much the ball has misbehaved.
That misbehaviour hasn’t been as disconcerting Saturday compared to Friday, and while India would have been favourites at the start of the day, to eke out a win, the South Africans have shortened their own odds thanks to Amla and Elgar.