Cape Town: South Africa reached 65 for two in their second innings after bowling India out for 209 in their first innings on the second day of the opening Test at Newlands here on Saturday.
The hosts have taken a lead of 142 runs as all-rounder Harik Pandya’s fighting knock of 93 lifted India out of the hole but that didn’t stop South Africa from getting a 77-run first-innings lead.
Hashim Amla (4 batting) and night-watchman Kagiso Rabada (2 batting) were at the crease when the umpires called it a day.
Earlier, Pandya (93) rekindled India’s hopes of a fightback with a classic counter-attacking half century but fell shy of seven runs to reach his second Test century.
Coming in at the fall of Ravichandran Ashwin when the Indians were tottering at 81/6, Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (25) forged a 99-run eighth-wicket stand to take India past 200-run mark.
For the Proteas, pacers Vernon Philander (3/33) and Kagiso Rabada (3/34) shared six wickets while Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel contributed with two scalps each.
Resuming the day on 28/3, Indian overnight batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma (11) started cautiously watching every delivery closely to keep rotating strike.
Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis used his seamers well — rotating them to keep the visitors unsettled. The home team’s pace quartet maintained a good line and length asking constant questions to the opposition batsmen.
Rohit, who struggled to get going in his 59-ball innings, which contained a single boundary, was dismissed by a delivery from Rabada which struck him in front of the wicket. But the Mumbai batsman asked for a review and the decision was in favour of the bowler.
Following the dismissal, Ravichandran Ashwin (12), who was promoted up the order, joined Pujara to take India to 76/4 at lunch.
After the lunch session, both Ashwin and Pujara failed to get going from the onset.
Saurashtra batsman Pujara, who was batting with patience, was sent back by a Philander’s delivery which fetched an edge and was taken easily at second slip by skipper du Plessis.
Later, Ashwin (12) and Wriddhiman Saha (0) were also sent back to the pavilion in quick succession. While Ashwin was caught behind off Philander, Steyn got a lbw verdict against Saha as India reeled at 92/7.
However, the struggling Indian innings came to a recovery with a blistering innings from Pandya — who was tactically sent down the order. The Baroda right-hander hit 14 boundaries and one hit over the fence in his 95-ball innings.
Complimenting Pandya, Bhuvneshwar played a perfect second fiddle getting off the mark in the 32nd delivery he faced. The seamer presented full face of the bat, going on the defensive, allowing Pandya to go after the bowling.
The Proteas were seen to introduce their lone spinner Keshav Maharaj (0/15) for the first time in the second session.
The only trouble for the hosts came in form of their premier pacer Steyn — who was seen limping off the ground during the 61st over.
The hosts ended the partnership when Bhuvneshwar tried to cover drive Morkel, getting a thick edge which ended in the hands of de Kock, with India at 191/8.
Pandya fell soon, beaten by a delivery from Rabada that had extra bounce to deny him go over the slip cordon. De Kock took a regulation catch to ease the pressure on the hosts.
Rabada then snapped Jasprit Bumrah (2) to end the Indian first innings which ended at 209, with Mohammad Shami unbeaten on 4.
Pandya stole the show with the ball as well, removing both the South African opening batsmen Aiden Markram (34) and Dean Elgar (25).
Markram and Elgar put up a 52-run stand before the former pulled Pandya to the hands of Bhuvneshwar Kumar at mid-off.
Left-hander Elgar was settling nicely before edging an away moving delivery from Pandya to wicket-keeper Saha.
India pushed hard for the fall of night watchman Rabada towards the end but he managed to survice along with Amla as the hosts took a healthy lead going in to third day’s play.