After a frustrating third day when intermittent rain forced a total washout, the sun was out on the fourth morning, shining brightly on the Indians as their pacemen helped the visitors surge back into the first Test against South Africa. Showing a relentlessness all too rare, India shot South Africa out for 130 in their second innings at Newlands in Cape Town on Monday (January 8).
Having conceded a 77-run deficit, India will require 208 runs to score a remarkable come-from-behind victory against a South African attack that will be without Dale Steyn, who is out of action for at least four to six weeks with a bruised heel.
With the pitch under covers for more than a day, there was enough moisture on the surface and the Indian bowlers made full use of the conditions, picking up eight wickets in 21.2 overs on the fourth morning to come storming back into the contest. India’s bowling heroes were Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, with the fielders providing excellent catching support.
Resuming the day on 65 for 2, ahead by 142, South Africa got off to the worst possible start with Shami getting rid of Hashim Amla in just the second over of the day for four, courtesy a low catch by Rohit Sharma at gully.
Shami, who had been slightly off-colour on the first day, was back at his pacy best, getting the ball to move around. He was soon rewarded with the wicket of Kagiso Rabada (5), the nightwatchman who edged a shortish delivery to Virat Kohli at second slip.
Bumrah, having bowled with pace and accuracy till that point, then got into the act to snare Faf du Plessis with an absolute brute of a delivery for a duck, the South African skipper only gloving the lifter to Wridhimann Saha.
Things turned worse for the hosts with Bumrah striking in his next over too. Looking to drive on the up, Quinton de Kock could only manage an inside edge to the wicketkeeper for eight as India nipped out four wickets in the first hour of play itself.
Amidst all the carnage, AB de Villiers stood firm, going about his business with authority. He ramped Shami for a six over third-man and flicked Bumrah for a boundary to the vacant midwicket region but with wickets falling at regular intervals, he was forced to shell his aggressive approach.
Keshav Maharaj gave de Villiers some support, smacking a couple of boundaries in his 21-ball 15, but was undone by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who also accounted for Morne Morkel.
Steyn, ruled out of the series, made a courageous effort in coming out to bat in a bid to extend the lead, but Bumrah soon ended the entertainment when de Villiers, looking to add some extra runs, mistimed a length ball for Bhuvneshwar to hold a fine catch at deep midwicket. South Africa’s innings folded after just 41.2 overs, at the stroke of lunch.
Bumrah and Shami picked up three wickets apiece, while Bhuvneshwar and Pandya chipped in with two each to round off an excellent display.