When play resumed on the fourth day of the first test in Visakhapatnam, South Africa were South Africa 385 – 8, with Muthusamy unbeaten on 12, and Keshav Maharaj 3 not out. That was in reply to the Indian first innings total of 502 – 7, with the South Africans hoping to bat as along as possible to limit deficit to India on first innings.
And, despite losing Meharaj early, caught by Mayank Agarwal off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin, the last wicket pair of Muthusamy and Kagiso Rabada frustrated the Indian attack by sharing a stand of 35, before Kagiso was lbw to Ashwin for 15. Muthusamy was left 33 not out as South Africa closed their innings on 431 all out.
Ashwin was the undeniable pick of the Indian bowlers with 7 for 145, whilst his spin partner Ravindra Jadeja finished with 2 for 124. Ishant Sharma picked up the other South African wicket to fall.
That left India with a first innings lead of 71, which they looked to build hoping to set a big enough target to still have the chance of forcing a victory on a deteriorating pitch.
However, they suffered a setback when Agarwal, a double centurion in the first innings, fell for just 7 caught by Faf du Plessis off Maharaj. However, Rohit Sharma and Chesteshwar Pujara essentially switched into one-day cricket mode as they looked to score enough runs quickly so as to leave their bowlers enough time. The pair put on 159 for the second wicket, scoring at almost four runs an over, as they piled the pressure on the South Africans. Rohit scored his second century of the match, fully vindicating the faith in him shown by the selectors, whilst Pujara showed that his first innings was a rare failure.
Their stand was eventually ended when Pujara fell for 81, lbw to Vernon Philander. He had struck 2 sixes and 13 fours. Jadeja was sent in up the order to score runs quickly, and he added a further 49 with Rohit, until the opener was out for 127, stumped by Quinton de Kock off Maharaj. His innings featured no fewer than 7 sixes and 10 fours.
Jadeja scored 40, including 3 sixes, putting on 47 with Virat Kohli, until he was bowled by Kagiso Rabada. Then Kohli and Ajinka Rahane added 37 before Kohli decided that his side had enough runs, and declared on 323 – 4. Kohli was 31 not out, and Rahane undefeated on 27 when the declaration occurred.
That left South Africa needing a high improbable 394 to win, and their task was made all the harder when opener Dean Elgar, who had scored a big hundred in their first innings, was lbw to Jadeja for 2. At close of play, South Africa were 11 -1, still trailing by 382 runs, with nine second innings’ wickets still standing. They face an uphill task on the final day to save the match.