India close in on victory as Proteas bat twice on day two
India closed in on a series triumph over South Africa as 20 wickets fell on an action-packed day two of the third Test in Nagpur.
Having enjoyed a productive opening day in which they dismissed the hosts for 215, the Proteas had little to smile about in the first session on Thursday as Ravichandran Ashwin (5-32) and Ravindra Jadeja (4-33) ripped through their batting line-up, the tourists bowled out for just 79 – their lowest total since returning to Test cricket in 1992.
Only three batsmen got into double figures as they toiled against spin, and things could have been much worse had JP Duminy not contributed 35 lower down the order.
Ashwin bowled unchanged from one end as India assumed control, claiming his fifth five-wicket haul of the calendar year as South Africa were all out in the 34th over.
The hosts fared a little better with the bat as they began their second innings before lunch, but still wickets fell as Imran Tahir continued the dominance of spin by taking 5-38.
Tahir claimed India’s final wicket to dismiss the hosts for 173, and South Africa closed 32-2 as they batted for the second time in the day in pursuit of 310.
South Africa’s troubles began in the opening over of the day as Dean Elgar (7) was bowled by Ashwin, before Hashim Amla (1) and AB de Villiers (0) followed soon after to leave the tourists 12-5.
The wicket proved difficult to bat on against spin and had it not been for Duminy supporting the tail South Africa’s response could have been even lower.
Playing well down the ground, Duminy hit one four and two sixes on his way to 35, but he quickly ran out of partners as Ashwin and Jadeja bamboozled with the help of the deteriorating track.
Simon Harmer (13) was the only other batsman to reach double figures as South Africa limped to 79 all out, a deficit of 136.
India’s lead began to rise towards 200 as Shikhar Dhawan (39), Cheteshwar Pujara (31) and Rohit Sharma (23) showed others how it was done with attacking displays.
However, Tahir was causing problems with his leg spin and dismissed three of India’s top five.
Morne Morkel (3-19) showed there was still something for the quicks too as he bowled a disciplined line and length, the 31-year-old claiming three wickets as he found helpful movement off the seam.
Lusty blows from Ashwin (7) and Mishra (14) lifted India’s advantage to over 300 before Tahir wrapped things up, a standard leg break deceiving Mishra to trap him LBW.
The day may have seen 18 wickets fall but there was still more to come as South Africa batted again, with Stiaan van Zyl (5) and Tahir (8) unable to negotiate a tricky 14-over spell before stumps without losing their wickets.
That left Elgar (10) And Amla (3) at the crease, with South Africa facing a huge task to avoid defeat.