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Kohli and Rahane stand firm as India all set to complete 3-0 rout

In all likelihood, Rohit Sharma has played his final Test. (Photo Courtesy: NDTV Sports)
In all likelihood, Rohit Sharma has played his final Test. (Photo Courtesy: NDTV Sports)

There were not many boundaries or eye-catching shots from the batsmen on display. However, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane batted with grit and gumption on a tough day of Test cricket. Despite South Africa’s persistent efforts, India amassed a mammoth lead of 403 and took a giant stride towards heaping more agony on the visitors.

The day began promisingly for the Proteas with Morne Morkel showing his versatility on an uneven surface. The tall pacer used his experience to great effect by sparking an early morning collapse in the Indian batting unit.

Murali Vijay was terribly unlucky after he adjudged caught behind even as replays showed that the ball was nowhere near the bat. But the Tamil Nadu opener was caught in two minds as Morkel dug in a well-directed bouncer. In an inexplicable decision, Rohit Sharma was sent in at number 3.

Sharma demonstrated his lack of temperament for Test cricket when he was dismissed for a golden duck. The Mumbaikar played down the wrong line, expecting another short-pitched delivery.

Morkel generated steep bounce and repeatedly troubled Shikhar Dhawan. But the flamboyant opener was not willing to give up, yet. He rode through the tough passage of play by displaying remarkable restraint.

As the partnership between Dhawan and Pujara started to blossom, Morkel produced an unplayable yorker to send back the Delhi dasher. Changing his angle and coming in from around the wicket, the speedster tested Dhawan’s patience with his impeccable control, before firing in the fuller one. Pujara followed suit when his defence was breached by an ecstatic Imran Tahir.

India were in a spot of bother at 57/4. Soon, the Kohli-Rahane show began. The level of umpiring was once again under the scanner when Bruce Oxenford committed a howler. But Tahir could not keep his feet behind the line which forced a visibly livid Kohli to return to the crease.

A stellar partnership followed thereafter between the classy batsmen as South Africa’s bowlers began to show their inconsistency by providing the release ball regularly. Kohli reached his maiden half-century of the series amidst loud cheers from the Delhi crowd.

Rahane brought up another half-century and both batsmen began to assert their dominance in the final session by playing aggressively. On a rapidly deteriorating surface, the spinners were largely toothless as they failed to sustain the pressure which meant that the seamers had to bowl long spells under soaring temperatures.

Yet another harsh day awaits South Africa

With still 2 days left, the visitors have nowhere to hide as the lead has already swelled beyond 400. Kohli will look to complete his century and unleash his deadly spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja on the Proteas. The pitch is worn-down and the spin twins will enjoy wreaking havoc on the South African batting line-up for one last time.

The highest team total in any fourth-innings on Indian soil remains the home team’s 387/4. And judging by how the visitors have batted so far in the series, South Africa have an insurmountable task on hand as India will expect to wrap up another comfortable victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla and aggravate an already tormented touring entourage.

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