NAGPUR, Nov 26: A staggering 20 wickets fell on a dramatic second day as India shot out South Africa for a record-low first innings score of 79 before setting the visitors a formidable target of 310 to win the third and penultimate cricket Test and clinch the series.
At stumps at the VCA Ground, Jamtha, South Africa were struggling at 32 for two with opener Dean Elgar (10) and captain Hashim Amla (3) battling it out at the crease after the dismissals of Stiaan van Zyl (5) and night watchman Imran Tahir (8).
On a pitch that saw vicious turn, a record 20 wickets fell during the day after the dozen yesterday to turn the contest into a lop-sided one in favour of the spinners. This is the highest wicket-fall in a single day in India after 20 wickets fell in a day during the India versus Australia match in Mumbai, 2004.
India, after taking a handy lead of 136 runs, went for quick runs and were all out for 173 in the second, which left the visitors with more than three full days to get 278 more runs to win the game and keep the series alive for the fourth tie at Delhi commencing on December 3.
Considering the state of the pitch and the happenings of the first two days, the match is all set to end on the third day tomorrow, most probably in favour of India that will mark an end to South Africa�s enviable nine-year unbeaten Test series away from home record as they are trailing the hosts 0-1 in the four-game rubber. Opener Shikhar Dhawan (39), one-down Cheteshwar Pujara (31) and no. 6 Rohit Sharma (23) were the only batsmen in the Indian second innings to get into the 20s as leg-spinner Tahir picked up five wickets and speedster Morne Morkel got three.
In the morning itself expectations were high that the Indian spinners would create mayhem on the venomous track after the Proteas resumed at the overnight 11 for 2 in reply to the hosts� modest tally of 215.
True to predictions, Ravichandran Ashwin (5 for 32), Ravindra Jadeja (4 for 33) and Amit Mishra (1 for 9) combined forces to slice through the nervous Proteas� batting order and shoot them out for their 12th lowest Test score and their worst since readmission to international cricket in the early 1990s.
The visitors lost eight wickets this morning after resuming at the overnight score, in one and a half hours� batting during which they faced 24.1 overs.
The South African innings, that commenced late last evening, lasted seven minutes over two hours and 33.1 overs. It beat the previous low of 84 against India made in Johannesburg in December 2006 as well as the previous lowest in this country of 105 in November 1996.
India 1st innings: 215
South Africa 1st innings: (Overnight 11 for 2): Dean Elgar b Ashwin 7, Stiaan van Zyl c Rahane b Ashwin 0, Imran Tahir b Jadeja 4, Hashim Amla c Rahane b Ashwin 1, AB de Villiers c & b Jadeja 0, Faf du Plessis b Jadeja 10, JP Duminy lbw b Mishra 35, Dane Vilas b Jadeja 1, Simon Harmer b Ashwin 13, Kagiso Rabada not out 6, Morne Morkel c & b Ashwin 1. Extras: (LB-1) 1. Total: (all out in 33.1 overs) 79. Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-9, 3-11, 4-12, 5-12, 6-35, 7-47, 8-66, 9-76. Bowling: Ishant Sharma 2-1-4-0, Ravichandran Ashwin 16.1-6-32-5, Ravindra Jadeja 12-3-33-4, Amit Mishra 3-0-9-1.
India 2nd innings: Murali Vijay c Amla b Morkel 5, Shikhar Dhawan c Vilas b Imran Tahir 39, Cheteshwar Pujara b Duminy 31, Virat Kohli c du Plessis b Imran Tahir 16, Ajinkya Rahane c Duminy b Imran Tahir 9, Rohit Sharma c Elgar b Morkel 23, Wriddhiman Saha c Amla b Imran Tahir 7, Ravindra Jadeja b Harmer 5, Ravichandran Ashwin lbw b Morkel 7, Amit Mishra b Imran Tahir 14, Ishant Sharma not out 1. Extras: (B-8, LB-5, NB-3) 16. Total: (all out; 46.3 overs) 173. Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-52, 3-97, 4-102, 5-108, 6-122, 7-128, 8-150, 9-171. Bowling: M Morkel 10-5-19-3, S Harmer 18-3-64-1, K Rabada 5-1-15-0, JP Duminy 2-0-24-1, Imran Tahir 11.3-2-38-5.
South Africa 2nd innings: Dean Elgar batting 10, Stiaan van Zyl c Rohit Sharma b Ashwin 5, Imran Tahir lbw b Mishra 8, Hashim Amla batting 3. Extras: (B 4, LB 1, NB 1) 6. Total: (2 wickets; 14 overs) 32. Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-29. Bowling: Ishant Sharma 3-1-6-0, R Ashwin 6-2-12-1, Ravindra Jadeja 4-2-6-0, Amit Mishra 1-0-3-1. � PTI