SA off to a poor start after Harmer, Morkel bundle out India for 215
South Africa ended the first day trailing India by 204 runs after Ashwin and Jadeja picked up wickets to reduce the visitors to 11/2. Earlier, Simon Harmer and Morne Morkel combined to take seven wickets as India were bowled out for 215 in the first innings of the third Test at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur on Wednesday.
Brief scores: South Africa 11/2 in 7 overs (Elgar 7*, Ashwin 1/2, Jadeja 1/5); India 215 in 78.2 overs (Vijay 40, Jadeja 34, Saha 32, Harmer 4/78, Morkel 3/35)
After South Africa bundled India out fo 215, it was once again time for Ashwin and Jadeja to wreak havoc on the Proteas top order. Indian captain Virat Kohli opened the bowling with Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin, and the off-spinner delivered the opening wicket for the captain with his seventh delivery. The Ashwin – Rahane combine continued their successful partnership into the third Test as well - Van Zyl departed for a duck.
Imran Tahir, who was sent as the night-watchman, survived a stumping off Ashwin when he managed to keep barely an inch of his foot behind the line. Jadeja, soon after, cleanedup the leggie to welcome the Proteas captain to the crease. At the end of play, Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla were at the crease with the Proteas struggling at 11/2.
In the morning, Indian captain Virat Kohli decided to bat first after winning the toss. India made two changes from the last Test with Rohit Sharma and Amit Mishra coming in for Stuart Binny and Varun Aaron. The visitors brought back Simon Harmer into the squad with Kyle Abbott making way for him to capitalize on the spin-friendly pitch.
Openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan added a steady fifty-run partnership in the morning session. Hashim Amla’s strategy of introducing spinners early worked as Dean Elgar struck to remove Dhawan for 14. Vijay departed soon after with Morne Morkel trapping him leg before for 40. Pujara and Kohli were able to stitch together a 16-run stand before the teams went off for lunch.
The hosts, however, lost the plot early in the afternoon session with Morne Morkel and Simon Harmer wreaking havoc on the India middle-order. Harmer trapped Pujara before the wicket for 21 to initiate the collapse. Rahane and Kohli were then removed in quick succession by Morkel to increase the pressure on Indians.
Rahane’s poor record at home continued as his promising innings of 13 was cut short by an in-swinger from Morkel. Captain Kohli’s susceptibility to balls outside off-stump once again came to light as Morkel send him back for 22. Rohit Sharma, who is playing his first Test of the series, started the innings on a cautious note. Harmer’s loopy delivery on leg ended Sharma’s innings as de Villiers at leg slip took an edge off Sharma’s bat.
It was Ravindra Jadeja’s counter attack and Wriddhiman Saha’s steady innings after tea that helped India notch up a modest score of 215 in the first innings. Jadeja’s counter attacking style provided India with some quick runs as he and Saha forged a 48-run partnership to steady the innings. However, Jadeja's aggressive style also led to his downfall as he dragged on a delivery outside the off-stump by Kagiso Rabada for an innings of 34, which included 6 fours.
South Africa suffered a massive blow when Morkel left the field in the 70th over, in what seemed to be a hamstring injury. Saha, who slowly built up his innings during Jadeja’s attacking knock, took charge of the innings after Jadeja’s departure. The wicket-keeper managed to dig over 100 deliveries for the second time against at Nagpur, after being part of the match against the Proteas in 2010. Saha’s innings however, ended when JP Duminy took a brilliant catch of the bowling of Harmer, to send back the wicket-keeper. Tahir and Harmer finished off the Indian innings by removing Ashwin and Mishra cheaply.
The visitors will be hoping for a good performance from their middle-order to keep their enviable away record intact.