2nd Test: India stare at series defeat after Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli gone

Updated: 17 January, 2018 08:34 IST | Anand Vasu | Centurion

Debutant pacer Lungi Ngidi dismisses Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, while Rabada sends back Murali Vijay as India stare at series defeat after being reduced to 35-3, chasing 287 to win

South Africa's Lungi Ngidi (left) celebrates after dismissing Indian opener KL Rahul on Day Four of the second Test yesterday. Pic: AP/PTI
South Africa's Lungi Ngidi (left) celebrates after dismissing Indian opener KL Rahul on Day Four of the second Test yesterday. Pic: AP/PTI

All roads may lead to Rome, but all paths at SuperSport Park seemed to lead straight back to the Indian dressing room on a fourth day's play that might have been India's but ended with South Africa in near complete control of the second Test. Chasing 287 for victory, India's top order was cut to ribbons. Murali Vijay was the first to go, a pacy ball from Kagiso Rabada keeping low and crashing into the stumps via the bottom inside edge of the bat. The ball keeping low, when it is delivered from such a high point, at pace, is next to unplayable when it is on the stumps, but the next two wickets that fell had nothing to do with a surface that Morne Morkel had called "100 per cent India."

KL Rahul, choked for runs, sensed an opportunity when Lungi Ngidi served up a little width outside the off stump, but with opportunity comes great risk. Rahul went for a back-foot punch with a horizontal bat and the shot was not on, the ball spearing straight to Keshav Maharaj at point.

If Rahul was the appetiser for Ngidi, the main course was not far away. Virat Kohli, who had been squared up to pick up a streaky boundary to third-man off the outside edge, was nailed in front of the stumps by a skidding rocket that came in considerably. The movement and pace beat the broad blade of the Indian captain, and an optimistic review, almost made in prayer, ended in three reds on the giant screen. At 26 for three, India's chase was all but dead in the water, and the management's decision to hold back Rohit Sharma, playing once more at Ajinkya Rahane's expense, was hardly a vote of confidence in the ability of the remaining batsmen to chase down this target.

Parthiv Patel, copping a few blows, managed to hang on till the end of play, in the company of Cheteshwar Pujara, as India reached 35 for three. Earlier in the day, South Africa managed to swell their lead to 286, thanks to Faf du Plessis, who could not attack the bowling, but hung in there long enough to make 48 from 141 balls. AB de Villiers had set the tone as only he can, going from an overnight 50 to 80, and Vernon Philander made an invaluable contribution, scoring 26 at No. 7 and allowing a partnership with the captain to be protected.

On the final day, India have a potential 98 overs to score the 252 runs needed for victory. South Africa need seven balls on the stumps to keep low.

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First Published: 17 January, 2018 08:22 IST

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