Nagpur: South African pacer Morne Morkel’s three-wicket burst wrecked India and the hosts were bowled out for 215 in their first innings on the opening day of the third and penultimate Test here today.
Coming to bat after a cheerful day, South Africa too were in trouble and India could have the last laugh as Ashwin had his man, Van Zyl again! Flighted and full on off, spinning away, Van Zyl leaned forward for a prod but is done in by the away spin. He gets an outside edge and the slip fielder makes no mistake. Van Zyl returns home with 0 off 7 balls.
Night Watchman Imran Tahir walked out to the middle but will have sleepless night as Ravindra Jadeja clean bowled him with a beauty of a ball. The ball was pitched on middle stump and it turned to rattle the off-stump. Tahir departed with the score of 4 (12 balls).
At stumps, the Proteas were 11 for two wickets.
Opting to bat on winning the toss, India got off to a good start when openers Murali Vijay (40) and Shikhar Dhawan (12) put on their 2nd successive half century stand of the series. But the loss of both the batsmen in the second hour before lunch followed by a dramatic collapse after the break left the hosts, who are leading 1-0 in the series, at a difficult 125 for 6. In the space of 15 overs after lunch, India lost four wickets for the addition of only 31 runs after being 95 for 2.
Morkel and off-spinner Simon Harmer did the most damage. Wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha (9) and Ravindra Jadeja (21) then remained unconquered at the end of the second session in which the home team lost four wickets for 64 runs. Jadeja played some attacking shots against the spinners in his 26-ball unbeaten knock that contained four fours, while Saha was giving him watchful support at the other end. Morkel, lacking effective pace support at the other end in the absence of the injured Dale Steyn, was the most impressive of the bowlers and his tea figures read 3 for 27.
Jadeja was getting impatient after crossing the 30-run mark. There were a couple of close appeals against him in Rabada’s 15th over and Rabada had the final laugh when an inside edge crashed on to the stumps. The wicket ended the 48-run stand between him and Saha with Jadeja’s score standing at 34.
After battling for over 100 balls, Saha pushed one towards midwicket where Duminy ran to his left and pulled off a spectacular one-handed catch. A special catch has ended Saha’s resilience. Saha put up a fighting 32 runs against his name.
Tahir picked his first wicket of the innings when he bowled a googly to Ashwin, the ball as expected went between his bat and pad and crashed into the stumps. Ashwin made 15 off 44 balls. In the next over, Harmer trapped Mishra in front of the wicket to take his tally to 4.
In the morning the home team lost Vijay and Dhawan to adjourn to the interval at 85 for 2. Dhawan, denied strike for long, was lured out by Elgar soon after the 50 was raised in 13.4 overs and spooned a drive back to the left arm slow bowler who accepted a return catch to his right. The left-hander’s 12 came off 23 balls and was his third low score in the series.
South Africa hit back strongly through Morkel in the first hour post lunch as the hosts lost Cheteshwar Pujara (21), captain Virat Kohli (22) and Ajinkya Rahane (13). Morkel, who got rid of Vijay in the first session, added the wickets of Kohli and Rahane to his kitty in a fiery third spell of 4-2-8-2. Pujara was taken out by off-spinner Simon Harmer, who trapped him leg-before and later got rid of a struggling Rohit Sharma (2) as India slumped to 125 for 6 from 50 for no loss in 32.2 overs on either side of lunch.
On a wicket that already showed signs of offering significant turn, Dhawan fell for 12 after putting on a second successive half-century partnership with Vijay who made 40 before departing. Both the batsmen fell in the second hour of play. Dhawan was taken out by left-arm spinner Dean Elgar after a 68-minute stay, inducing a drive by luring out the left hander and pouching the return catch with glee. Vijay, who had made his debut at this ground seven years ago against Australia, was sent back by Morkel in his second spell after the duo had carried India through the first hour of play without being separated. Morkel came back for his second spell by changing ends to trap the opener bang in front with a full length ball that kept a bit low and struck the pads as the batsman tentatively pushed forward.
India: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma.
South Africa: Stiaan van Zyl, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Dane Vilas (wicketkeeper), Kagiso Rabada, Simon Harmer, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.