By BV Swagath
India are already in the driver’s seat in the Johannesburg Test courtesy of a huge partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. The partnership which is unbroken at 191 runs has sealed the match for the Indians more or less with the overall leading at 320 runs with still 8 wickets in hand. A defeat has certainly been ruled out for India and South Africa will have to bat long to either win the match or save it.
Cheteshwar Pujara has come good in the second essay scoring a 6th Test century while Virat Kohli showed that he wasn’t content with his first innings century. Kohli is inching towards a 5th Test century with 77* (from 132 balls with 8 fours) to his name by the close of Day 3. Pujara (135* from 221 balls with 18 fours) and Kohli dominated a tired South African attack plundering them for as many as 175 runs in 38 overs of the final session! South Africa struggled with Morne Morkel ruled out from the remainder of the match and also the next Test with an ankle injury.
Update at Tea on Day 3: A solid partnership for the 2nd wicket from Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara has seen off the new ball threat of the South Africans. India finished the afternoon session at 109 for 2 with Chetheswar Pujara on 39* alongside first innings centurion Virat Kohli (6*). India hold onto an overall lead of 145 runs with plenty of batting left.
Murali Vijay got out after working hard scoring 39 from 94 balls. It was a soft dismissal down the legside for Vijay off an innocuous delivery from Jacques Kallis. Vijay added 70 runs for the 2nd wicket with Pujara to frustrate the South Africans.
Update at Lunch on Day 3: India did reasonably well to finish the morning session at 31 for 1 in 14 overs to take their overall lead to 67 runs. The only casualty in the session for India was Shikhar Dhawan, who was edged out to second slip by Vernon Philander. Dhawan looked good until then with his 15.
India has got Murali Vijay batting on 12* along with Cheteshwar Pujara, who is on 4*. Towards the end of the session, South Africa received a major blow with Morne Morkel twisting his right ankle and was carried out of the ground. It is not sure whether Morkel will return again to bowl in this Test match given the fact that a stretcher had even come out which proves the seriousness of his injury.
Update of SA innings: India bowled out South Africa for 244 to capture a slender first innings lead of 36 runs. It took the visitors a little over 45 minutes on Day 3 to take the remaining four wickets of the Proteas.
Although Vernon Philander started the day with a couple of boundaries to bring up his half century, he did not last long and got out to Zaheer Khan. Philander (59 from 86 balls with 7 fours) was nicely caught by Ashwin at first slip after pushing at an away swinger from Zaheer. The South African all-rounder put on a valuable partnership of 80 with Faf du Plessis for the 7th wicket.
Ishant got the next wicket with an awkward bouncing delivery which flew off Dale Steyn’s bat shoulder to third slip reducing SA to 237 for 8. Zaheer finished the innings forcing Faf du Plessis (20) to nick his forward defence to the keeper and then followed it up with an inswinging yorker to clean up the off stump of Morne Morkel.
Both Zaheer and Ishant had taken four wickets each while Mohammed Shami contributed with a double-wicket over yesterday.