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India South Africa Second Test – Third Day Report

India began the third day of the Second Test in Pune against South Africa in an utterly dominating position. Having won the toss and opted to bat first, they had gone on to make 601 – 5 in their first innings, with captain Virat Kohli scoring 254 not out, Mayank Agarwal 108, Ravindra Jadeja 91, and Cheteshwar Pujara.

In reply, a weary South Africa had stumbled to 39 – 3 at stumps on Day Two, still trailing by 565 runs, with both openers, Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar, and Temba Bavuma, already back in the pavilion.

And things soon got worse when play got underway, as they lost night-watchman Anrich Nortje, caught off the bowling of Mohammed Shami, Kohli taking the catch, with just two runs added to the overnight score. Three overs later, Theunis de Bruyn, who had held the South African top order together, scoring 30, departed, caught by wicket-keeper Wriddiham Saha, with Umesh Yadav the bowler this time.  The visitors had slumped to 53 – 5. However, captain Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock then showed some fight with a stand of 75 for the sixth wicket, which was finally broken when de Kock, who had scored 31, including 7 fours, was bowled by the off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

Senuran Muthusamy occupied the crease for a while, but he was lbw to the other main spinner, Jadeja, having scored 7, and, after du Plessis and Vernon Philander had added 23, the South African skipper fell for 64, caught by Ajinkya Rahane off Ashwin. His innings had featured one six and 9 fours.

However, tail-enders Philander and Keshav Maharaj showed the determination and technique that some of the higher order batsmen had lacked, and the pair put on 109 for the ninth wicket, with Maharaj reaching his best score in test cricket, 72, because he was finally caught by Kohli off the bowling of Ashwin. He had struck 12 fours. Last man Kagiso Rabada was then lbw to Ashwin, as South Africa were bowled out for 275, with Philander 44 not out.

Those late wickets enabled Ashwin to finish with 4 for 69, whilst Yadav took 3 for 37, and fellow paceman Shami 2 for 44.

With no time left to start the second innings, that meant at close of play, India led by 326 runs on first innings, and, barring a miracle or the intervention of the weather, set to take a winning two nil lead in the three match series.

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