Johannesburg — South Africa will have to achieve their highest successful run chase if they want to square the series with India, after the visitors set them 240 to win the second Test.
The Proteas reached 34/0 at tea on Wednesday, with Aiden Markram on 24, an innings that has featured one beautiful cover drive against hi nemesis Mohammed Shami, while Dean Elgar was on 10.
South Africa’s highest score to win a Test match batting in the fourth innings here was 220/6 achieved against New Zealand in 2006.
They may want to draw inspiration from Australia who have twice successfully chased bigger targets at the ‘Bullring’; they reached 298/8 in winning there in 2006 and three years later thanks to heroics from their current captain Pat Cummins, made 310/8 to draw that series.
Injudicious use of the short ball cost South Africa valuable runs and undid much of the good work produced by the bowlers in the hour before lunch. Tactically it was a poor choice by the hometeam and the execution wasn’t much better with too many balls saidl harmlessly over the batters. Nowhere near enough balls were hitting the stumps, and the Indian lower order simply camped on the backfoot and then pulled or deflected the ball to the boundary. It resulted in 78 runs being scored in 16 overs and again, South Africa as they did with the bat on Tuesday, let go too easily of an advantageous position, on this occasion with the ball.
Hanuma Vihari finished not out on 40, effectively farming the strike, while Shardul Thakur after his heroics with the ball on Tuesday, weighted in with 28 off 24 balls, hitting five fours and a six.
Marco Jansen, who finished with 4/67, to back up his 4/31 from the first innings, allowed himself to get involved in an unnecessary verbal joust with Bumrah, that did him and the South African players no good.
Bumrah has learned to enjoy battles like that as it gets him into a contest. The English players, led by James Anderson, tried it at Lord’s last year, and Bumrah shared a valuable partnership for the 10th wicket with Shami and then led the assault on the English batters which ended with a stunning victory for a charged up Indian team.
Rabada, who had bowled South Africa back into the match in the morning, finished with 3/77, while Lungi Ngidi finally got reward for his excellent work throughout the match to pick up 3/43.
Vihari shared partnerships of 17 for the ninth wicket with Bumrah and and 19 for the 10th wicket with Siraj, which gave the Indian target further heft.