South Africa lost Dean Elgar early in their chase of 395, after Rohit Sharma’s second century in the match helped India plunder 323/4 in their second innings on day four of the Visakhapatnam Test.
The hosts had 13 overs to play with till close of play after the declaration, only nine of which could be bowled because of deteriorating light. Spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja started off the proceedings for India. Ashwin almost got Elgar in the first over with a ball that skidded on, missing the batsman's attempted drive and nicking the off stump. Luckily for the opener, the bails refused to budge. However, the first-innings centurion’s luck ran out just a couple of overs later when Jadeja trapped him in front on 2.
Aiden Markram and Theunis de Bruyn then negotiated five more overs before bad light stopped play, the visitors now needing 384 runs on day five.
Earlier on day four, South Africa resumed on 385/8, 117 runs behind, with Senuran Muthuswamy unbeaten on 12 and Keshav Maharaj on three. The duo could add only 11 more runs to the overnight total before Ashwin dismissed Maharaj for nine.
Muthuswamy persisted with No.11 Kagiso Rabada to add 35 runs for the final wicket adding to India’s frustration. But it was Ashwin again, who came to the rescue and picked up his fifth seven-wicket haul in Tests when he trapped Rabada in front of leg on 15. The South African tail’s resistance chipped away the deficit and kept India’s lead down to 71.
In order to force a result, the hosts needed quick runs to build on their lead. However, the South African bowlers kept things tight at the beginning with Vernon Philander leading the charge. At the other end, Keshav Maharaj almost had Rohit stumped in the sixth over but the opener was quick to slide his back foot inside before the bails were taken off. Maharaj continued to poke and prod inviting the first-innings double centurion Mayank Agarwal to nick one into the slips. Rohit and Cheteshwar Pujara then ensured that India played the remaining six overs before lunch without further hiccups.
India switched to fifth gear in the second session, Rohit putting away the loose deliveries for boundaries and quickly notching up his 11th Test fifty in just 72 balls. The opening batsman’s cleaning hitting inspired Pujara to up his own ante after the drinks break. The No.3 batsman took on the spinners and soon caught up with Rohit, scoring his 21st half-century in Tests. He had taken 62 balls to score his first eight runs but only 44 more to add 45 runs and complete his fifty.
Nothing went in South Africa’s favour as they failed to create chances and were equally poor in the field, boosting the confidence of the Indian batsmen. By tea, India had raced to 175/1 with the duo adding 154 for the second wicket.
The 20-minute pause before the final session brought a lapse in Pujara’s concentration, who managed to survive for less than three overs. He was done in by a jaffa by Philander, falling just 19 runs short of his hundred. At the other end, Rohit continued his onslaught, becoming only the second Indian opener after Sunil Gavaskar to score a century in both innings of a Test. He also became the first batsman to score two hundreds on debut as an opener. He accelerated after the hundred, even plundering Dane Piedt for three consecutive sixes at one point. However, Maharaj once again brought an end to his resistance, drawing him forward on a well-flighted ball. Rohit, who was not at the pitch of the ball, missed the loft with Quinton de Kock making quick work behind the stumps.
Jadeja scored a swift 32-ball 40 before being bowled by Rabada and Virat Kohli partnered with Ajinkya Rahane to add brisk runs, taking India's lead close to 400 before declaring.
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