NEW DELHI: An unbroken stand of 133 between captain Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane inflated India’s lead to 403 against South Africa on the third day Saturday of the fourth and final test.
Kohli was unbeaten on 83 and Rahane on 52 in moving India’s second innings from a relatively troubling 57-4 to 190-4 at stumps.
The first century stand of the low-scoring series has India in prime position to finish the series 3-0 victors and compound South Africa’s first away series loss in nine years.
Kohli led the charge with his 12th test half-century playing some fine drives and deft shots down the leg side on a slow pitch with low bounce.
Rahane, who got the first century of the series with a resolute 127 in the first innings, was slower but as solid in the second innings.
South Africa pace bowler Morne Morkel grabbed three wickets but Kohli and Rahane ground down the bowlers with a partnership that was 12 runs more than South Africa’s first-innings total.
Kohli, who has struck 10 fours off 154 deliveries so far, was adjudged caught behind off Imran Tahir on 5 but batted on after replays showed the delivery was a no-ball.
Rahane has hit five fours off 152 balls in his eighth half-century.
Morkel relentlessly picked a fine line around off stump to finish the day on 3-29 off 17 overs.
He bowled a productive spell of seven overs with the new ball, making India struggle at the start of its second innings in the morning with a first-innings lead of 213 runs.
He dismissed opener Murali Vijay for 3 and Rohit Sharma for a duck in quick succession before Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan forged a 45-run partnership that took India to 51-2 at lunch after a slow first session.
Morkel had Vijay caught behind off a vicious bouncer that was taken one-handed high up by wicketkeeper Dane Vilas. However, replays suggested the ball grazed Vijay’s arm-guard and the batsman, too, indicated it hit him there.
Morkel was on a hat trick after dismissing Vijay off the last ball of his third over and bowling Rohit first ball of his fourth. Rohit, promoted up the order to No. 3, missed a good-length delivery that kept low as India fell to 8-2.
Morkel also came back to dismiss left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan for 21 with a yorker.
With leg spinner Tahir bowling Pujara for 28, the damage was repaired by Kohli and Rahane.