New Delhi: When compared to the previous games, Day Three of the fourth Test may seem uneventful. After all, India scored only 190 for the loss of four wickets, with the unbeaten batsmen Virat Kohli (83) and Ajinkya Rahane (52) holding fort.
Virat Kohli (right) is congratulated by Ajinkya Rahane after the India skipper's half-century against South Africa at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Saturday. Pic/AFP
However, there were a few compelling moments, particularly in the first session, when Morne Morkel promised to liven things up with a fiery spell. At stumps, India lead by 403 and may mull over a declaration overnight.
Morkel's early spell
In the absence of Dale Steyn, Morkel has risen to the challenge and bowled with vigour. He did well in Nagpur and threatened India at Delhi on Day Three. Murali Vijay was surprised by a short-one that hit him on the arm-guard and was taken by the wicketkeeper. Unfortunately, he was ruled out. Rohit Sharma walked in at No 3, ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara, and was bowled off the first ball from Morkel.
Shikhar Dhawan was done in by a great yorker. Coming from around the wicket, Morkel castled the southpaw with a toe-crusher. Kyle Abbott, the South African pacer, felt there have been other good deliveries in this series, but this one was special. “It was out of the box thinking so from that point of view it was (the best ball),” he said.
A glimpse of hope
Soon after, Pujara was bowled by Imran Tahir. At 57 for four, South Africa may have had a glimmer of hope. “Maybe at a stage, 350 (target) was on our mind — that we were possibly looking at. But then it just seemed to get a bit slower and it was definitely not reversing as much as it was yesterday,” said Abbott.
Kohli and Rahane then constructed a solid stand. That too wasn't without drama as Kohli was adjudged out caught behind off Tahir on five, only to find out that the leggie had overstepped. The duo then bided its time, scoring 133 off a little under 50 overs. “To be quite honest, the longer they bat, the happier we are. More overs are taken out of the game. To be honest, I thought they'll have a crack at us tonight — maybe an hour or so,” Abbott said.
There were a few unwanted moments during the day. When Murali Vijay was given out caught behind off Morkel, he pointed to his arm-guard before trudging off. Dhawan vented his anger at substitute KL Rahul, when the latter was late to attend to him on one occasion. Kohli stood with his arms on his hips when he was given out caught behind off Tahir, before it was overturned.
Rohit Sharma on Saturday was dismissed for duck for the first time in a Test in India
Cheteshwar Pujara's average in the ongoing series is his lowest in a four-Test series at home