Proteas fightback sets up nail-biting final session

2013-12-22 15:28

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India: 280 and 421

South Africa: 244 and 331/4 (Du Plessis 88*, De Villiers 72*, Petersen 76, Mohammed Shami 2/77, Zaheer Khan 1/93)

South Africa needs 127 more runs to win

A classic is unfolding at the Wanderers, with all three results possible going into the final session of the first test. The protagonists of the Adelaide rearguard are at it again. This time though, there is the opportunity of victory.

India cannot be discounted but the session will be an ODI shoot-out if the weather doesn’t intervene.

Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers saw the team safely to tea with an excellent stand of 134. They got the target from 222 aat lunch to less than 150, leaving the game delicately poised.

It was a session of accumulation on a track that was showing signs of spitefulness from both ends. With more fortitude than skill, the Affies duo saw off the threat of the new ball. It leaves India with a ball that is refusing to reverse swing. After all, the lush surface at the Wanderers does not bode well for ball scuffing.

Du Plessis, who hadn’t crossed the 50 mark in seven innings, made it eighth time lucky with a well constructed 142-ball vigil that slowly started shutting the door on the visitors. There were a few scares, with Ajinkya Rahane nearly running out Du Plessis on 82 but his defensively important innings was complimented by a sparkling De Villiers special.

The wicket-keeper may have his issue with closing out ODI chases but in tests, he is a different proposition. He had his struggles with Zaheer Khan and the impressive Mohammed Shami but saw them off.

He reached his half-century off 84 balls, littered with boundaries all around the ground.

The tiring Indian attack did not do much wrong, with all the pacemen finding movement from the surface. They just did not have the rub of the green, with edges dropping short or going just wide of the slip cordon. There were the bad balls, which were gleefully put away by the settled batsmen. However, it is anybody’s game now.

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