New Delhi: Skipper Virat Kohli roared back to form with a scintillating unbeaten 83 as India further consolidated their position with whopping overall lead of 403 runs at stumps on the third day of the fourth and final Test against South Africa in New Delhi on Saturday.
India were 190 for four in their second innings courtesy 133-run stand for the fifth wicket between Kohli and first innings centurion Ajinkya Rahane before play was called off a little early because of bad light at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
Rahane started from where he left in the first innings remaining unbeaten on a patient 52 as India pressed for a 3-0 series rout against the hapless visitors who managed to dismiss Murali Vijay (3), Rohit Sharma (0), Shikhar Dhawan (21) and Cheteshwar Pujara (28) in quick succession.
With two full days left in the game, India may bat till lunch time tomorrow and look at a lead of 450 plus before declaring the innings. South Africa will then have to bat out of the skin to prevent another heavy defeat.
Kohli, who notched up his first 50 plus score in the series, played 154 balls hitting 10 crisp boundaries.
This was his 12th Test half-century and he is now only 11 runs short of completing 3000 runs in Test cricket.
Rahane, who showed much more restraint, took 152 balls to hit five boundaries in his innings. In fact his 50 came off 146 balls compared to Kohli's milestone that was achieved in only 70 balls.
Kohli's innings was a mixture of elegance and power. When he muscled off-spinner Dane Piedt through covers, it was power of wrists but the moment Kyle Abbott bowled one shade outside the off-stump, it was elegance personified as he opened his bat face to gently guide it through vacant third-man region. He repeated that same shot off Morne Morkel when reached into the 80s.
Kohli looked determined from the start as he wanted to make this opportunity count as this will be India's last Test match for at least next six months (in case they host Bangladesh at home for a single Test).
In fact, when he reached his half-century, the celebrations were pretty muted by his standards he just raised his bat for a second towards the section of school children who were cheering him vociferously.
It was also the first time in the series that a pair from either side have put on a 100-run stand.
A very interesting piece of statistic that emerged was the fact that it took 115 partnerships throughout the entire series to get a single century stand.
For South Africa, Morne Morkel was the best bowler with figures of 3/29 in 17 overs -- the stand-out delivery being the scorching yorker which dismissed Shikhar Dhawan.
Earlier, India started the day on a disastrous note, losing Vijay to a lethal short ball bowled by Morkel. The tall speedster hit the back of length area and the ball kicked up viciously.
The normally technically sound Vijay tried to awkwardly fend it off to get out of the way. The ball looked like brushing his armguards before being taken by Dane Vilas behind the stumps as he timed his jump to perfection.
This team management promoted Rohit Sharma at No 3 trying to give him some valuable time with less pressure and a sizeable lead on the board. But the Mumbai lad again disappointed his fans as Morkel bowled one fuller that move a shade to rattle his off-stump.
Cheteshwar Pujara (28), who sustained a bruise in his forearm yesterday and could not field, carried on manfully till lunch session.
Pujara whipped Dane Piedt through midwicket for a boundary even though he faced some difficulty while facing Kyle Abbott before getting a couple of streaky boundaries.
Dhawan (21), however, was more assured against Abbott and twice hit off-drives to collect boundaries but was apparently more cautious against the spinners as he failed to get the scoreboard moving during his 86-ball stay.
The Pujara-Dhawan duo added 45 runs but South Africa again struck in the post-lunch session.
First it was Pujara, who tried to cut one from Tahir that stayed low and knocked his off-stump.
But then it took a beauty from Morkel to get rid of Dhawan. The speedster came from round the wicket and bowled a toe-crushing inswinging yorker that hit the base of leg stump even as the local boy tried bringing his bat down on time.
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