South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj battled through pain and held back from hitting out as he resisted India’s drive for a decisive win in the second Test on Saturday.
The tourists were eventually dismissed for 275, 127 runs away from avoiding the follow-on, but Maharaj earned praise for his courageous stand with Vernon Philander that held up India’s march towards a victory that would seal the three match series.
Maharaj, who made 72 with an injured shoulder, and Philander, unbeaten on 44, put on 109 for the ninth wicket to frustrate the Indian bowlers for 43.1 overs in Pune.
“It’s (shoulder) very sore. Yesterday I dived on it so lot of bruising. But hopefully I’ll be fine for the rest of the series,” Maharaj, primarily a left-arm spinner, said.
“Vernon and I said to ourselves that we’ll just get through to tea and see after that. Being a lower order batsman your fingers do itch to play a big shot but Vernon kept me in a good mind space.
“After a few pulls I felt normal (in the shoulder). It’s better to be positive, because if you go into your shell a ball with your name will come along sooner or later.”
Ravichandran Ashwin broke the stand by taking number 10 Maharaj in the final overs and then claimed last man Kagiso Rabada, for two, to wrap up the innings with figures of 4-69.
India, who scored 601-5 declared, have until the start of play on Sunday to decide whether to enforce the follow-on. South Africa still trail India by 326 runs.
The Proteas, who resumed on 36-3, slipped to 162-8 after skipper Faf du Plessis fell for 64 to Ashwin’s off spin.
Maharaj, who injured his shoulder while fielding on Friday and went off the pitch for scans, came out to join Philander to make a last stand.
Maharaj passed his previous Test best of 45 with a boundary off Ashwin and completed his fifty to an ovation from the crowd.
“I wanted to stay outside off stump to spin, I tried to stay leg side of the ball for (Ravindra) Jadeja,” said Maharaj, who claimed his 100th Test wicket in the Indian innings.
“We saw (Mohammed) Shami got the ball to reverse, and the wicket is deteriorating, but the longer you bat, the easier it is.”
Philander, a pace-bowling all-rounder, also played a patient innings. He stayed on for 192 balls before running out of partners.
Fast bowler Mohammed Shami struck early to remove nightwatchman Anrich Nortje for three when he edged a delivery to Virat Kohli at fourth slip.
Theunis de Bruyn was caught behind off Yadav for 30 as the tourists slipped to 53 for five. Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock put on a 75-run fourth wicket stand with du Plessis to offer some resistance before Ashwin’s off spin bowled him for 31.
Kohli hit a career-best 254 not out to surpass Don Bradman’s Test tally of 6,996 runs on Friday as India tightened the screws on the tourists.
A victory for India, already one up in the three Tests, will see them beat the record of 10 straight home series wins they share with Australia.
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Rain is threatening to wash out cricket history this week as Sri Lanka face the very real prospect of finishing their tour of Pakistan without playing a single over of cricket.
Unseasonal rain in Karachi washed out the first ODI on Friday and that forced the Pakistan Cricket Board to reschedule the second ODI for Monday instead of Sunday. The third and final match is scheduled at the same venue on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka have had just two training sessions since they arrived in Pakistan last Tuesday where they will also play three Twenty20s in Lahore between October 5-9.
“Even before we came here the preparations were hampered by rain (in Sri Lanka), it seems as if it’s raining in the whole world,” said Sri Lanka coach Rumesh Ratnayake, who played 23 test matches and 70 ODIs for Sri Lanka.
“The prep hasn’t all been that good but that’s not going to be an excuse which I will give because they are all professional players.”
Ten of Sri Lanka’s top players refused to travel to Pakistan for the limited-overs series due to security concerns despite the Pakistan government providing the team with high level security normally reserved for heads of state.
“Even though 10 players aren’t here, the people who have taken their place are aware that they are challenged to do well, it’s for their future also, so hope there won’t be any rain,” Ratnayake added.
Karachi hasn’t hosted an ODI in 10 years since Sri Lanka last played here in 2009. It is the first time since Sri Lanka’s team bus was attacked in Lahore in 2009 that a foreign team has conducted, or attempted to, a two-week tour of Pakistan.
Major teams have avoided the country since that ambush, which killed eight people and injured several players.
England skipper Joe Root was a happy man after seeing his side draw the Ashes series 2-2 following a 135-run win at The Oval.
Four wickets each from Stuart Broad and Jack Leach helped to wrap up victory as Australia, who had already retained the urn, were bowled out for 263 in their second innings with Jofra Archer’s six for 62 in the first having laid the foundation.
Root said: “We were excellent this week. Having lost the toss, to play as we did was fantastic. We drove the game all the time and got there in the end.
“Jofra makes things happen, and he’s backed up with other skilful bowlers. Collectively we’ve shown a lot of character throughout the whole series. We were not always at our best, but we’ve fought really hard. Credit to Tim (Paine) and his team.”
England’s man of the series Ben Stokes admitted his disappointment at not being able to win back the Ashes, but said he and his team-mates were able to take some comfort from drawing the series.
Stokes said: “Obviously it was disappointing in Manchester for us to know that we couldn’t get the Ashes back.
“But we turned up here this week knowing that we still had a huge amount of pride and the Test Championship to play for, and we managed to draw the series, which was the goal at the end of this game.”
Man of the series Steve Smith saluted Australia’s retention of the urn at the end of a “spectacular” contest after seeing Matthew Wade sign off with a century.
Smith said: “It’s been an amazing couple of months in England. The cricket’s been spectacular. The series has ebbed and flowed.
“I’ve loved every minute and am proud to have been able to perform for Australia and bring the urn home.
“The middle of the wicket still played pretty well, and Wade applied himself, batted beautifully today. But England played terrific cricket.”
Australia captain Paine was disappointed to have lost the fifth Test, but proud of his side’s performances over the series.
Asked if he had any regrets, Paine said: “Regrets? I’ve got a couple – to start with, the toss. We didn’t take our chances on day one, we didn’t back up our bowlers.
“England got ahead of the game. I can’t read a pitch so I’m always 50-50. We’ve got to bat, bowl better than we did in this Test match.
“No doubt today puts a dampener on it, but from where this group’s come from, to retain the Ashes is still a big deal.”