All three results are possible heading into the final day, with an India win being the heavy favorite as the Proteas ended Day 4 on 94/4, needing 211 more runs to go 1-0 up in the series. After India set a target of 305, the hosts were going well at 74/2, but a double-strike from Bumrah in his final spell tilted the contest once again in favor of the visitors. Whether India get over the line on the final day might very well depend on the weather.
Cautious India opt for damage-control in first session
Having bafflingly lost 7 wickets for the addition of just 55 runs in the first session on Day 3, team India, today, opted for caution. They were loose on Day 3 trying to up the ante, but on Day 4 the visitors ensured to consciously adopt a cautious approach, in order to set themselves a platform in the second session.
South Africa struck in the seventh over of the day, with Rabada seeing the back of nightwatchman Thakur, but despite toiling hard on a bowler-friendly surface, the Proteas would end up picking just one more wicket in the remaining overs in the first session. That sole wicket was that of KL Rahul, who perished for 23. The right-hander was watchful for 73 balls, but on ball number 74 he slashed at a wide one which ended up carrying to Dean Elgar at first slip.
Kohli and Pujara came together in the 23rd over, and they took the team to lunch unscathed. Kohli had a close LBW shout which he was lucky to survive while Pujara had luck of his own too, with Rabada dropping a sitter on his 12th ball.
Barring the drop, however, Pujara was assured, facing 52 balls for the 12 runs he scored. Kohli, on the other hand, was far more proactive, as he notched up 18 runs off the 31 balls he faced, predominantly scoring through the third-man region.
India went to lunch on 79/3, leading the Proteas by 209 runs.
Rahane, Pant cameos hurt South Africa as India crumble
After a cautious first session, India got off to the worst start imaginable post-lunch, as Kohli, once again, nicked off outside off-stump. Jansen tempted him with a wide one, and Kohli couldn’t resist. Just five overs later, Pujara perished tamely, through a fine tickle down the leg-side to the keeper.
But despite losing two cheap wickets, India would be lifted big time by valuable cameos from the duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant.
Rahane walked in on the back of Kohli’s dismissal, and he wasted no time, smashing 20 off the 23 balls he faced. His innings included four boundaries, three of which came in a single over against Marco Jansen. Ultimately, though, Jansen had the last laugh as a miscued hook saw Rahane perish.
His cameo was succeeded by Pant, who did even better. The swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman smashed a run-a-ball 34, almost all of which came batting along with the tail.
There was also a valuable contribution from Ravichandran Ashwin, who added 14 important runs.
India were eventually bowled out for 174, meaning the target for the Proteas was 304.
The stars with the ball were Rabada and Jansen, both of whom claimed four-wicket-hauls.
Much-improved batting performance, but South Africa still lose four
South Africa’s showing with the bat in the first innings was a disaster. By the 13th over they lost 4 wickets, and 62 overs was all their innings lasted. The lower-order showed more resistance than the top-order.
Thankfully for the hosts, that was not the case come the second innings. What unfolded was a much-improved batting performance.
Despite losing Aiden Markram in the second over of the innings, the Proteas lost just two more wickets across the next 40 overs. They managed to string together two valuable partnerships that frustrated India.
The star of the show was skipper Elgar, who remained unbeaten on 52, but there were also handy contributions from both Rassie van der Dussen and Keegan Petersen. While van der Dussen lasted 65 balls, Petersen looked good in his 36-ball stay in which he scored 17. Both were involved in long partnerships with the skipper.
Van der Dusssen, much to the Proteas’ dismay, perished 30 mins before stumps, and that brought in the nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj,
Maharaj did a fine job for 18 balls, but in the very final over of the day he was castled by a Bumrah yorker.