Bumrah’s late strikes tilt game India’s way


India is six wickets from victory in the first Test against South Africa after Jasprit Bumrah struck twice in the final few overs on day four in Centurion.

Chasing a target of 305, the hosts recovered from the loss of Aiden Markram (1) and Keegan Petersen (17) to reach 74-2, before Bumrah (2-22) bowled Rassie van der Dussen for 11, and then sent down a perfect yorker to remove nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj (8) with the last ball before stumps.

South Africa will resume on day five on 94-4, still needing 211 runs to win.

The Proteas had earlier dismissed India for just 174, with Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen particularly impressing.

While Lungi Ngidi produced a brilliant 6-71 in the first innings, it was Rabada (4-42) and debutant Jansen (4-55) who did the damage in the second, with the latter dismissing Virat Kohli when the India captain edged behind to Quinton de Kock for 18.

Rassie van der Dussen ducks under a bouncer • Dec 28, 2021 © AFP via Getty Images

KL Rahul, who scored 123 in the first innings, was out for just 23 this time, but the 334 balls he faced across both innings was the most by an overseas opener at Centurion, the third-most by any opener, and the second-most by an overseas player, with only Australia’s Shaun Marsh facing more (372 in 2014).

Mohammed Shami, who claimed his 200th Test wicket on day three, bowled Markram early in South Africa’s reply before Mohammed Siraj got the wicket of Petersen shortly after tea, caught behind by Rishabh Pant.

Bumrah picked up two more wickets late on, and despite a spirited 52 not out from Proteas captain Dean Elgar, South Africa have work to do to salvage a result on day five.

Jansen bodes well as one for the future

It was not the start to Test cricket that Jansen will have envisioned, ending day one of his debut with figures of 0-61, but after taking his first wicket of Bumrah early on day two, the 21-year-old has not looked back.

He was a constant threat in the second innings, taking the wickets of Mayank Agarwal, Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Siraj. At an imposing 6ft 8in, Jansen already looks to be the sort of figure that batsmen will not relish facing, especially once he has more experience under his belt.

It was a moment to savour for Marco Jansen, as he removed Virat Kohli first ball after the lunch break • Dec 28, 2021 © Gallo Images/Getty Images

Collapse does not see India relinquish control

Pant top scored for the tourists on day four, with just 34, while only two others managed more than 20 to contribute to a measly total of 174. However, it was still enough to set South Africa a daunting target of 305.

The highest successful fourth innings run chase at SuperSport Park in history is 251 (England in January 2000), while the highest fourth innings score there is 268 (also England in December 2019), and Kohli will be aware that their second innings total was in part down to the increasingly difficult pitch.

Weather permitting, he will fancy his team’s chances of clinching victory. (SportsMax)

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