Proteas start better‚ but end in familiar funk

South Africa's cricket team captain Faf du Plessis (R) celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of India's cricket team captain Virat Kohli during the first day of the third and final Test match between India and South Africa at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) stadium in Ranchi on October 19, 2019.
South Africa's cricket team captain Faf du Plessis (R) celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of India's cricket team captain Virat Kohli during the first day of the third and final Test match between India and South Africa at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) stadium in Ranchi on October 19, 2019.
Image: Money SHARMA / AFP

Some things changed but others remained the same for struggling South Africa in their men’s Test series in India in Ranchi on Saturday.

Temba Bavuma accompanied Faf du Plessis to the middle for the toss and spun the coin to start the third match of the series‚ but Virat Kohli still earned the right to decide what his team would do first.

And‚ as they did when the same plot unfolded in the first two games‚ India batted.

But‚ unlike earlier in the series — which the home side have already won — they lost three wickets in little more than the first hour.

Then normal service resumed‚ and when bad light ended play six overs after tea India were 224/3 with Rohit Sharma undefeated on 117 — his third century in four innings — and Ajinkya Rahane 83 not out.

India made one change‚ replacing fast bowler Ishant Sharma with debutant Shahbaz Nadeem.

South Africa cleared their bench‚ giving debuts to Heinrich Klaasen and George Linde — who came in for the injured Aiden Markram and Keshav Maharaj — and dropping Theunis de Bruyn‚ Vernon Philander and Senuran Muthusamy in favour of Zubayr Hamza‚ Lungi Ngidi and Dane Piedt.

Quinton de Kock‚ who has relinquished the wicketkeeping gloves to Klaasen‚ will fill the vacancy Markram left at the top of the order.

And when Kagiso Rabada removed Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara inside nine overs‚ and Anrich Nortjé did for Kohli — and all with only 39 scored — it seemed all that changed had helped South Africa turn a corner.

But the South Africans were reeled in‚ starting with Hamza dropping a difficult chance at short leg that would have earned Linde his first wicket with just his third delivery.

Had the catch been taken Sharma would have been out for 28‚ his partnership with Rahane would have been snuffed out for 21‚ and India would have been 60/4 with the best of their batting gone.

Instead Sharma and Rahane took their stand to 185‚ a record for India’s fourth wicket against South Africa‚ and will continue it on Sunday.

Sharma‚ whose first 50 took him 86 deliveries and the second only 44‚ became the first India opener since Sunil Gavaskar against West Indies in 1978 to bank more than two centuries in a series.

No-one has hit more sixes in Test cricket this year than Sharma’s 17‚ and no bowler has been hammered for as many sixes by one batter in a series in Test history as Piedt has by Sharma: 11.

Rabada took 2/15 in a fine first spell of seven overs‚ four of them maidens‚ and ended the day with 2/54 from 14 having added one more maiden.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X