New Delhi: Skipper Virat Kohli (83 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (52 not out) led India’s second innings resurgence after pacer Morne Morkel had struck early blows for South Africa and helped the hosts reach 190/4 at stumps on the third day of the fourth and final cricket Test here on Saturday.
Coming together when the hosts were reeling at 57/4, Kohli and Rahane completed their respective half-centuries and produced a 133-run partnership at the Ferozeshah Kotla. India, who have a 2-0 unassailable lead, are now 403 runs ahead with two days to go.
Kohli was unbeaten on 83 — his 12th Test half-century — to lead India out of trouble along with Rahane. He hit 10 boundaries during his stay in the middle.
Rahane was in equally good form at the other end. The Mumbai batsman, who had scored a century during India’s first innings, donned the saviour’s role in the hosts’ second essay as well. He scored 52 runs, studding his knock with five hits to the fence.
Morkel was the most impressive among the Proteas bowlers. The experienced pacer beat the batsmen frequently with his pace and movement for figures of 3/29. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir had figures of 1/49.
Kyle Abbott, the other pacer in the South African attack, also bowled well, and will perhaps consider himself unlucky not to come away with a wicket.
Starting their second essay with a 213-run first innings lead, India lost early wickets as Morkel bowled a fiery spell in the pre-lunch session. Fellow pacer Abott was also bowling well at the other end as the Indians took time to open their account.
The hosts lost two quick wickets when Morkel sent back opener Murali Vijay and the off-colour Rohit Sharma in quick succession.
Vijay (3) was surprised by the extra bounce of a Morkel delivery that appeared to brush his gloves on the way to wicketkeeper Dane Vilas. But television replays later showed that the ball did not touch his gloves.
Rohit fell victim to the first ball he faced, a beautiful delivery from Morkel that generally held its line with a slight outward movement after pitching on the good length spot.
Rohit probably expected the ball to angle in, and could only watch helplessly as his off-stump was uprooted.
Morkel struck again immediately after lunch with an accurate, in-swinging yorker right into Dhawan’s blockhole that clipped off the bail on the leg-stump.
Kohli was lucky to get a let-off when he edged Tahir to the wicketkeeper. But the delivery was adjudged to be a no-ball.
Cheteshwar Pujara looked promising during his 28-run knock which included three hits to the fence. But the Saurashtra batsman was outfoxed by a faster delivery by Tahir that pitched on a fuller length before hitting the off-stump.
Pujara’s departure saw Rahane join Kohli in the middle and the duo proceeded to try and salvage the Indian innings.
Rahane had a narrow escape early in his innings when Morkel almost found the outside edge of his bat.
But Kohli and Rahane ensured that the Proteas did not enjoy any more success from thereon as they proceeded to help the hosts tighten their grip on the match.