India struggle after dismissing Proteas for record low total

Nagpur, Nov 26 (IANS) India dismissed South Africa for a record low total before posting 108/5 to take a 244-run lead at tea in their second innings at tea on Day Two of their third Test at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium here on Thursday.

India resumed the post-lunch session at 7/0 and scored 101 runs at the cost of five wickets. Left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan top-scored for the hosts with 39 while Cheteshwar Pujara made 31. Rohit Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha were at the crease when tea was called.

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir clinched 3/8 in his four overs for South Africa. Morne Morkel (1/13) and J.P. Duminy (1/24) also took a wicket each.

India lost in-form opener Murali Vijay early when he misjudged the bounce of a Morne Morkel delivery and South Africa captain Hashim Amla pulled off a low catch in the slips.

Cheteshwar Pujara seemed to be in good touch during his 31-run knock before being bowled by Duminy. Shikhar Dhawan, who has not been among the runs in this series, was looking good for a big score. But the left-hander had to pay the penalty for being over-ambitious and perished while attempting a reverse off Tahir.

Tahir then clinched the prized wicket of India skipper Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha as South Africa clawed their way back into the game.

Earlier, the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja wreaked havoc as India extinguished South Africa’s first innings for a mere 79 runs.

Ashwin returned figures of 5/32 while Jadeja had 4/33 as the Proteas slumped to their lowest total since being re-admitted to international cricket in 1991/92 following the abolition of apartheid.

This is the lowest total by any team against India in the longest format of the game. The previous lowest total by South Africa against India was 84 in Johannesburg in 2006. This is also the third lowest Test total by any team in India.

Before this, Sri Lanka held the record for the lowest total against India. They were bowled out for 82 in Chandigarh in 1990. Former left-arm spinner Venkatpathy Raju had taken six wickets in that match.

India were 7/0 at the lunch break, leading South Africa by 143 runs.

The pitch was a spinners’ paradise with the occasional variable bounce and the South Africans struggled to come to grips with the surface. J.P. Duminy was the only South African batsman who managed to put up some resistance to the Indian spinners.

The left-hander survived a few close calls before being trapped leg before by Amit Mishra for 35. But while he was at the crease, Duminy tried his best to take the battle to the Indian spinners. He even danced down the pitch to hit Jadeja for a couple of sixes over long on.

But there were several edges as well, the most notable being a dropped chance by Virat Kohli at slip off Ashwin when Duminy was on 13.

The rest of the South African batsmen did not fare so well.

Resuming the second day at 11/2, the visitors ran into trouble straight away without adding to their overnight score when Dean Elgar got an inside edge onto his stumps while attempting an expansive cut off Ashwin in the very first over.

The first four deliveries had turned viciously before Ashwin produced a straighter one that outfoxed the left-hander.

South Africa captain Hashim Amla continued his poor form during this tour when he mistimed an Ashwin delivery while attempting a sweep. The ball hit Amla’s arm and bounced off the back of the bat near the toe end. It then bounced off wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha’s shoulder and Ajinkya Rahane grabbed it at slips.

AB de Villiers was the next to go when he played at a delivery early. The in-form South African tried to work it to the legside from outside off, but misjudged the turn and Jadeja gleefully accepted an easy return catch off a leading edge.

Faf du Plessis looked in good knick during his short stay at the crease before being bowled by Jadeja while trying to hit the over mid-on. His departure left Duminy in the company of the tailenders and it was only a matter time before the South African innings came to a end.

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