A direct-hit run-out of Graeme Smith ended a century opening partnership as South Africa fought to stave off defeat on the fourth day of the first Test against India at the Wanderers Stadium on Saturday.
Set to make an improbable 458 to win, South Africa were 138 for two at the close. “We are very happy to have got two wickets,” said Indian top-scorer Cheteshwar Pujara who made 153.
“The wicket has variable bounce and the cracks are opening up so we are expecting more movement tomorrow. Conditions will be more difficult for batting.”
South Africa had reached 108 without loss with both Smith and Alviro Petersen batting with increasing confidence.
But Smith, on 44, went for a risky single after he punched a ball from Ravichandran Ashwin to mid-on. Ajinkya Rahane fielded superbly and threw down the stumps at the bowler's end, to the acclaim of his teammates.
Smith's dismissal was soon followed by that of Hashim Amla, who was bowled for the second time in the match without playing a shot.
Amla made four before ducking a short-pitched delivery from Mohammed Shami which kept low, going over Amla’s right shoulder before hitting the top of his off stump.
The ball which accounted for Amla was one of several which kept low at the golf course end of the pitch. Petersen, who scored a half-century in his team's second innings for the first time in 27 Tests, made 76 not out and saw out the day with Faf du Plessis (10).
With the light fading towards the close, the umpires told Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni that he would have to use only slow bowlers if he wanted play to continue.
Dhoni took off his wicketkeeping pads and bowled two overs in partnership with off-spinner Ashwin. India were bowled out for 421 in their second innings, leaving South Africa to negotiate 45 overs before the close of play as well as the whole of the fifth day.
Pujara and Virat Kohli took their third wicket stand to 222 before Pujara was caught behind off Jacques Kallis for 153. Kohli fell four short of his second century of the match. He made 96 before he was caught behind, cutting at off-spinner JP Duminy.
Pujara said the batsmen had been determined to do well in South Africa. “There was too much talk about this tour, about Indian batsmen not doing well overseas. Everyone took responsibility and we did it as a unit.”
Smith not resigning: CSA
Meanwhile, Cricket South Africa quashed a report that Graeme Smith may resign as SA skipper. “CSA would like to quash rumours and comments floating around social media platforms suggesting that Castle Lager Proteas Captain, Graeme Smith, threatened to quit if Thami Tsolikile was selected for the present Test series against India,” CSA said in a statement. “There is no truth at all to these malicious and damaging comments.”
India 1st innings: 280
SA 1st innings: 244
India 2nd innings (overnight 284-2)
S Dhawan c Kallis b Philander 15
M Vijay c De Villiers
b Kallis 39
C Pujara c De Villiers
b Kallis 153
V Kohli c De Villiers b Duminy 96
R Sharma b Kallis 6
A Rahane c Smith
b Duminy 15
M Dhoni c sub (Elgar)
b Philander 29
R Ashwin c Du Plessis
b Philander 7
Zaheer Khan not out 29
I Sharma lbw
b Imran Tahir 4
Mohd Shami b Tahir 4
Extras (b9, lb7, w8) 24
Total (120.4 overs) 421
Fall of wickets: 1-23 (Dhawan), 2-93 (Vijay), 3-315 (Pujara), 4-325 (R. Sharma), 5-327 (Kohli), 6-358 (Rahane), 7-369 (Ashwin), 8-384 (Dhoni), 9-405 (I Sharma)
Bowling: Steyn 30-5-104-0 (2w), Philander 28-10-68-3 (1w), Morkel 2-1-4-0, Kallis 20-5-68-3, Imran Tahir 15.4-1-69-2, De Villiers 1-0-5-0 (1w), Duminy 24-0-87-2
South Africa 2nd innings
A Petersen not out 76
G Smith run out
H Amla b Mohd Shami 4
F du Plessis not out 10
Extras (lb2, nb1, w1) 4
Total (2 wkts, 45 ovs) 138
Fall of wickets: 1-108 (Smith), 2-118 (Amla)
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 9-0-29-0, I. Sharma 9-2-28-0 (1nb), Mohammed Shami 8-1-30-1 (1w), Ashwin 16-2-42-0, Vijay 1-0-3-0, Dhoni 2-0-4-0
Match situation: South Africa need 320 runs to win with eight wickets in hand