India maintain upper hand

2013-12-21 13:13

India: 280 and 358/6 (Pujara 153, Kohli 96, Kallis 3/63, Philander 1/55)

South Africa: 244 all out (Smith 68, Philander 59, Ishant Sharma 4/79, Zaheer Khan 4/88)

India lead by 394 runs

The Proteas held back India’s charge towards a significant fourth-innings target through some disciplined bowling from Jacques Kallis.

Still, India have the upper hand on day four as they added 74 runs to their overnight total for the loss of four wickets.

The Proteas needed a big performance from their premier all-rounder and Kallis delivered. More will be required from him with the bat but with the ball, he did his best to haul the Proteas back into the game.

However, they still have to make the highest fourth-innings total at the Wanderers. Michael Atherton’s England tourists of 1995/96 made 351/5 in chasing 479.

The England captain buttressed that rearguard effort with a superb 185*. A similar effort will be needed from the Proteas big guns.

The Proteas took the new ball two overs into the day but that did not stop Cheteshwar Pujara from crossing the 150-run barrier for the fourth time in his career.

It was up to Kallis to induce a false stroke from Pujara, who had been watchful throughout his vigil. Their 222-run stand has set India on a path where only two results are possible: An Indian win or a draw.

Virat Kohli had the opportunity of being the first batsman to score two centuries in the same test at the Wanderers but on entering the nervous 90s, there was none of his first-innings confidence. He scratched his way to 96 before cutting one from JP Duminy into AB de Villiers gloves. Had he scored the four necessary runs, he would have joined Rahul Dravid, VS Hazare and Sunil Gavaskar as the only batsmen to score two hundreds in a test.

Meanwhile, Kallis got one to snake through Rohit Sharma’s defence from the Corlett Drive end. It was a delivery that pitched short on a crack and shot through at shin height.

While the pitch showed little signs of devilry, it was that kind of ball that would unnerve a team that still has to bat last. After all, it a fourth day surface that hasn’t seen much sunlight. More sun means wider cracks and harder batting.

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