A five-wicket haul by seamer Mohammed Shami has helped India claim the upper hand on Day 3 of the first Test against South Africa in Pretoria.
Shami moved to 200 Test wickets with figures of 5-44 as India bowled the hosts out for 197 in reply to the visitors’ first dig of 327.
At stumps, India were 1-16 in their second innings with an overall lead of 146 that already looks imposing for the home side on a Centurion Park wicket that will get harder to bat on.
Eighteen wickets fell on the third day after no play was possible on Monday due to rain.
First-innings centurion KL Rahul (five not out) and nightwatchman Shardul Thakur (four) will resume on Day 4 trying to quickly move to a score that allows India to declare and have enough time to bowl the home side out again.
Mayank Agarwal (four) was the only wicket to fall in India’s second innings, caught behind off debutant left-arm seamer Marco Jansen.
“The first session tomorrow is going to be key,” South Africa’s top-scorer Temba Bavuma said.
Shami had earlier led the Indian attack with a superb bowling display, eking out every ounce of assistance from the helpful conditions.
“Test match cricket is not rocket science. Understanding the conditions was crucial… it had rained a bit and I just wanted to hit the right lengths,” Shami told reporters.
“While coming through the ranks, no bowler thinks about this (getting 200 wickets).
“They just dream of playing for India. It’s all about hard work… when you put in the work, results follow.”
Indeed all the Indian seamers were among the wickets on a lively pitch that offered sideways movement and steep bounce, with Jasprit Bumrah (2-16) weighing in despite rolling his ankle.
Bumrah picked up the wicket of South African captain Dean Elgar (one) before giving the tourists a scare with his ankle complaint suffered in his follow through, leaving the field after bowling 5.5 overs.
However, he returned 15 minutes before tea and claimed the final Proteas scalp.
Only Bavuma managed to keep the visitors at bay for any length of time in a knock of 52.
South Africa had limped to tea at 5-109.
Shami bowled both Keegan Petersen (15) and Aiden Markram (13) with excellent deliveries as South Africa were left teetering at 4-32.
Quinton de Kock (34) and Bavuma put on 72 for the fifth wicket before the former chopped a Shardul Thakur delivery on to his stumps.
Earlier, Proteas seamer Lungi Ngidi took 6-71 as South Africa routed India’s first innings on the third morning.
Ngidi helped South Africa claim the last seven Indian wickets for only 55 runs.
The touring side had resumed on day three on 3-272 but were skittled within 15.3 overs after fiery fast bowling from Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada (3-72), as well as poor shot selection.
Opener Rahul could only add a single run before he was out for 123.