In a day that was of utmost significance in the context of the Test series between the world’s top-two ranked sides, it was Faf du Plessis‘ men who edged in front after bowling out the visitors for 307 in the first innings before reaching 90-2 themselves when stumps were called.
There were plenty of talking points and some fascinating individual performances as the two sides put on a fine exhibition of Test cricket.
HARDIK PANDYA’S UNFORGIVABLE RUN-OUT
Pandya’s athleticism is probably unparalleled in the Indian team and his excellent piece of work to run-out Hashim Amla on day one was proof of that. The all-rounder has hardly put a foot wrong since his introduction to international cricket, be it any format.
However, Pandya’s dismissal on Monday morning showed a lazy and reckless side to him which we have not seen before. The 24-year-old committed the cardinal sin of failing to ground his bat after being sent back by Virat Kohli while attempting a single and paid the price for it when Vernon Philander’s throw found its mark.
In what was perhaps the defining day for this high-stake series between the top two Test sides, Pandya’s gift to the Proteas was borderline blasphemous.
VIRAT KOHLI PLAYS A SKIPPER’S KNOCK IN EPIC 150
The Indian skipper had batted with great intent on day two as wickets kept falling around him to stay unbeaten on 85. On Monday, he continued in the same vein to rack up his 21st Test ton.
It was one of the finest of Kohli’s overseas hundreds as he practiced aggression and caution in equal measure. The 29-year-old played some exquisite cover drives during the course of his innings as those around him continued to flounder.
Running out of partners, Kohli brought up his 150 in quick time, becoming only the third Indian batsman to do so in South Africa. He was the last man to be dismissed while trying to hoist Morne Morkel over long-on but his 153-run knock ensured India only surrendered a slender first-innings lead of 28.
His selections might be highly controversial and questionable but there is no doubt that Kohli in full flow is a sight to behold.
JASPRIT BUMRAH GETS INDIA OFF TO A FLYER IN THE SECOND INNINGS
Having conceded a 28-run deficit, India got off to a dream start with the ball in the second innings as the Proteas lost two wickets in no time. Jasprit Bumrah was at the forefront of the destruction as he exploited the uneven bounce on the Centurion pitch perfectly.
With just his second delivery, he had Aiden Markram trapped plumb in front of the wicket with a skiddy delivery that kept a bit low to outfox the South African opener.
Bumrah mirrored that dismissal to send back Hashim Amla a few overs later with another delivery that did not bounce as much as expected. Playing in only his second Test, his quick salvo with the ball put the home-side in a real spot of bother at 3-2.
AB DE VILLIERS’ FIFTY PUTS PROTEAS IN COMMAND BEFORE BAD LIGHT HALTS PLAY
After the hosts had got themselves into a tricky situation following Bumrah’s initial burst, old hand AB De Villiers once again propped up to stop India’s charge. After his counter-attacking assault in the first Test had taken the game away from the visitors, he played a more restrained but equally effective unbeaten knock on Monday.
The former skipper teamed up with Dean Elgar to steady the ship and slowly began to impose himself on the Indian bowling as the innings wore on. The 33-year-old brought up his 42nd Test fifty in the final over of the day before play was abandoned due to bad light and a wet outfield.
De Villier’s steady hand had ensured that the Proteas were back on top and in the ascendancy by the end of day three and with the lead swelling to well over 100 runs now, India have it all to do in the remaining two days to salvage some hope in the three-match series.
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