India v South Africa: Host spinners get late reward as Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock lead Proteas fightback

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200 Test wickets for Ravindra Jadeja. Image credit - BCCI/Twitter.

South Africa came out battling on Day Three of the first Test against India, the visitors recovering from a poor start with the bat before ultimately giving themselves a fighting chance to avoid a potential loss.

Having started the day’s play at 39-3, the Proteas stretched their first-innings total to 385-8 after superb tons from opener Dean Elgar and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

With the visitors now trailing India by 117 runs in the first innings, it is still the hosts who hold the edge in the Test although South Africa have managed to confirm that they won’t bow out without a fight.

At the end of what was a frustrating day for the hosts on the field, we look at the key talking points from Vizag.

Defiant Elgar joins the 100 club for openers

After India openers Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal had cracked tons earlier in the match, it was the turn of their South African counterpart Dean Elgar to join in on the fun.

The left-hander had it all to do after Ishant Sharma’s dismissal of Temba Bavuma in the morning session reduced South Africa to 63-4, but he found the perfect ally in skipper Faf du Plessis to mount a terrific comeback for his side.

Despite India’s spinners getting significant purchase on the Vizag pitch, Elgar was undeterred as he took the attack to the hosts in uncharacteristic style. The southpaw forged valuable partnerships with Du Plessis and then De Kock as he marched his way to a first Test ton in India.

Getting to the three-figure landmark with a swashbuckling six, Elgar dug in for the long haul and was looking good for a double ton before his defiant knock of 160 was ended by Ravindra Jadeja in the final session of the day.

In total, the South African struck a total of four sixes and 18 boundaries in his 287-ball marathon stay with his century being the first by any Proteas batsman in India since 2010.

De Kock’s sensational tour continues

India thought they had found their much-needed opening when Ashwin ended Faf du Plessis’ 55-run knock but it wasn’t to be with Quinton de Kock coming out all guns blazing.

The South Africa wicketkeeper batsman had been the star of the preceding T20 series with two half-centuries in as many innings and he continued that golden form by slamming a rapid Test ton.

The left-hander was in no mood to be subdued by India’s spin attack as he unleashed a flurry of boundaries at Vizag to race away to his maiden Test ton in India and fifth overall. Like Elgar, De Kock too, got to his hundred with a sumptuous six as he displayed a varied range of strokes on the off-side in a stellar innings.

The 32-year-old was instrumental in the visitors avoiding the follow-on and he was batting at a strike-rate of nearly 70 before he was undone by a straighter delivery from Ashwin which sneaked past his defence.

While the Proteas man will be disappointed to not have held fort for longer, his superb counter-attack relieved much of the pressure on his side and has provided them with a glimmer of hope.

Jadeja brings up 200 Test wickets in a day of toil for India’s spinners

After India’s spin duo of Ravi Ashwin and Jadeja snared three wickets fairly early towards the end of Day Two, the hosts would have expected them to run through the South African batting card in a jiffy on Friday.

However, that proved not to be the case with Elgar and De Kock resisting them in fine style. It wasn’t due to a lack of trying though, with the two spinners making the ball spit and jump at the batsmen with venom with remarkable frequency.

While Ashwin’s perseverance was rewarded with the important scalp of Du Plessis, Jadeja got his due reward late in the day when he got Elgar to miscue a sweep into the hands of Cheteshwar Pujara.

It was the 200th Test dismissal for the India man and it came in only his 44th Test appearance. With that breakthrough, Jadeja has now become the quickest of all left-armed bowlers in history to bring up 200 Test wickets.

It turned out to be an important breakthrough for India  as well in the end with Ashwin adding the late scalps of De Kock and Vernon Philander to bring up his five-wicket haul.

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