CENTURION – Mohammed Shami claimed three crucial wickets to raise Indian hopes on the fourth morning of the second Sunfoil Test against South Africa on Tuesday.
Shami removed AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar and a horribly out of touch Quinton de Kock, with South Africa stumbling to lunch on 173/5 - lead of 201 runs
De Villiers and Elgar’s partnership of 141 runs for the third wicket, was crucial in restoring stability after, Jasprit Bumrah had reduced South Africa to 3/2 on Monday afternoon, and it gradually provided some control too as the pair batted through the first hour on Tuesday.
Both looked very comfortable with De Villiers producing one gorgeous cover drive off Bumrah, and some delightful cuts of Ishant Sharma. Elgar, who struggled Monday, drove with better timing on the fourth morning, reaching a ninth Test half century with an elegant cover drive off Shami.
The momentum of the morning changed shortly before drinks when De Villiers, trying to chop the ball down to third man, a shot he’d played successfully throughout his innings, saw the ball bounce just a little more than anticipated, and he gloved it to wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel.
De Villiers made 80 in just over two and a half hours, faceing 121 balls and hitting 10 fours.
Shami didn’t have to wait long for the next wicket, with Elgar mistiming a pull straight to KL Rahul at deep backward square leg. The gritty left-hander made 61, spending more than three hours at the crease, also facing 121 balls and striking eight fours and one six.
De Kock was eight minute stay at the crease was dreadful - the middle of his bat not meeting the ball once. Instead three outside edges flew over, between and through the slips cordon, before Shami eventually got one to go through to give Patel a second catch in the morning.
Quite where de Kock was trying to play the ball that led to his dismissal is anyone’s guess and given his current form, it’ll leave the selectors and coach Ottis Gibson with plenty to ponder for the remainder of the season about whether they can continue with sixth frontline batsmen, when that sixth batsman is so out of order.
Shami’s seven over spell, was of the highest quality, as he claimed 3/26, but there’ll be some concerns for his teammates with some variable bounce starting to make battin very challenging.
Skipper Faf du Plessis on 12 and Vernon Philander on 3, will resume after lunch, with the home team looking for a minimum of 250 to put India under pressure.