PUNE, Oct 12: Tail-enders Keshav Maharaj and Vernon Philander set an example of gutsy batsmanship as South Africa fought hard against a quality attack but could not stop India from taking a massive 326-run lead on the third day of the second Test here.
While a total of 275 in 105.4 overs is far from India�s mammoth first innings total of 601, the 109-run ninth wicket stand between Philander (44 not out) and an injured Maharaj (72) showed what the top-order could have done had they shown some stomach for fight.
It will be interesting to see if India captain Virat Kohli enforces a follow on or give his bowlers more rest before unleashing them, eyeing a series-clinching victory in the three-match rubber.
The duo ducked the bouncers, defended doggedly and attacked the loose deliveries as the Indian bowling attack suddenly lacked answers during the final session of the third day, which certainly belonged to the Proteas.
Coming together at 162 for eight, Philander-Maharaj pair not only had a century- plus stand but more importantly consumed 43.1 overs, taking away a lot of second innings overs from India.
Ashwin, who had the best figures of four for 69 in 28.4 overs, lauded the fighting ninth wicket stand between the lower-order batsmen.
�I think the myth of tail-enders is over-stated and when he (tail-ender) bats well, he bats well. Nowadays, nobody is really a mug with the bat. In our team also, everybody bats pretty well till No 11,� he said.
Asked if India will enforce the follow-on, Ashwin said that it will be the captain�s prerogative.
�At least, I haven�t thought about the follow-on. I think the captain will decide overnight on what he should be doing. It is also important, how bowlers recover, tomorrow morning.� � PTI
India 1st Innings: 601/5 declared
South Africa 1st Innings: (overnight 36/3)
Dean Elgar b Umesh 6
Aiden Markram lbw b Umesh 0
Theunis de Bruyn c Saha b Umesh 30
Temba Bavuma c Saha b Shami 8
Anrich Nortje c Kohli b Shami 3
Faf du Plessis c Rahane b Ashwin 64
Quinton de Kock b Ashwin 31
Senuran Muthusamy lbw b Jadeja 7
Vernon Philander not put 44
K Maharaj c R Sharma b Ahswin 72
Kagiso Rabada lbw Ashwin 2
Extras: (LB-8) 8
Total (all out in 105.4 overs) 275
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-13, 3-33, 4-41, 5-53, 6-128, 7-139, 8-162, 9-271.
Bowling: Ishant Sharma 10-1-36-0, Umesh Yadav 13-2-37-3, Ravindra Jadeja 36-15-81-1, Mohammed Shami 17-3-44-2, Ravichandran Ashwin 28.4-9-69-4, Rohit Sharma 1-1-0-0.