The helpfulness of the SuperSport Park pitch loans itself to low scores and South Africa inflicted one on India in their second innings on Wednesday, bowling them out for just 174 in the first Test at Centurion.
But given India’s big first-innings advantage of 130 runs, that means the Proteas had to go out and score 305 in the final innings to win the match. The fact that South Africa were dismissed for just 197 in their first innings shows how steep the task ahead of them is.
And the Proteas had surrendered one wicket to India by the tea break, Aiden Markram (1) trying to shoulder arms to Mohammed Shami but pulling the bat away too late and bottom-edging the ball on to his stumps.
Captain Dean Elgar (9*) and Keegan Petersen (12*) then survived through to the break with South Africa on 22/1. They still need 283 runs for an unlikely victory.
India had begun the fourth day on 16/1 and most of their batsmen were not there for a long time but a good time. But opener and first-innings centurion Lokesh Rahul batted for 107 minutes and scored 23, while Cheteshwar Pujara occupied the crease for nearly two hours and scored just 16.
Marco Jansen, the burgeoning young talent, reduced India to 111/6 after lunch as he claimed the wickets of Virat Kohli, caught behind for 18 off the first ball of the session, and Ajinkya Rahane (20) caught hooking.
That brought Rishabh Pant and Ravichandran Ashwin together and their partnership grew rapidly to 35 before Kagiso Rabada returned to wrap up the tail and keep South Africa’s target to just more than 300.
Rabada finished with 4/42 in 17 overs, while Jansen claimed the last wicket to complete a satisfactory debut with 4/55 in 13-and-a-half overs.
Pant scored a quickfire, run-a-ball 34 but Rabada put an end to his dangerous innings by bouncing him out.
The 25-year-old Lungi Ngidi chipped in with 2/31 in 10 overs to finish with eight wickets in the match, the first time he has done that in Tests.