Proteas march on!

South African batsmen, led by their gutsy skipper Dean Elgar, dug their heels in to reach within 122 runs of a series-levelling victory against India as the second Test seemed poised for a gripping fourth day finish here on Wednesday.

Elgar (46 not out off 121 balls) took some nasty blows off deliveries that spat off the cracks, but kept his team on course at 118-2 in pursuit of a tricky 240-run target set by India in the wake of a solid century-plus partnership from the under-fire duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.

Ajinkya Rahane (right) and Cheteshwar Pujara during their 111-run stand yesterday

Shardul Thakur (1-21), who is in the middle of a great Test match, got his eighth victim of the game in an over during which the ball seamed, bounced and kept low from the same spot with the last one finding opener Aiden Markram’s (31) pads. Keegan Petersen (28) added 46 with his skipper before R Ashwin (1-14) got one to drift and turn getting a leg before decision going his way.

However, like every new innings in this game where heavy roller has made batting easier by ironing out the divots on the good length spots, Elgar was ready to play the ugly game putting his body on the line, getting hit on knuckles, chest, shoulder and even on head prompting a quick on-field concussion test. While South Africa have half a foot through the victory door, there has been numerous instances in the series where a batting collapse has changed the course of the game.

There are two things that would keep India worried going into the fourth day. In this Test, the batting conditions have improved as the match has progressed—202, 229, 266—and secondly, Mohammed Siraj is far from fit and bowled only four out of the 40 overs sent down till now.

Brief scores
India 202 & 266 (A Rahane 58, C Pujara 53, H Vihari 40*; L Ngidi 3-43, M Jansen 3-67, K Rabada 3-77) v SA 229 & 118-2 (D Elgar 46*, A Markram 31)

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