India gain healthy lead on treacherous pitch

India gain healthy lead on  treacherous pitch

On a treacherous pitch, where batsmen will be more worried about getting injured than being dismissed, India may just have put enough runs on the board to pull one back and salvage some of the pride lost.

Virat Kohli (41, 79b, 6x4) played another innings of substance, M Vijay (25, 127b, 1x4) left more balls travel to the wicketkeeper than he poked at -- an essential ingredient missing from his game till this innings and Ajinkya Rahane justified all-round clamour for his inclusion with a gem of an innings that can perhaps be the difference between India winning and South Africa losing.

At tea on Friday's middle day of the third and final Test here at the Wanderers, India had progressed to 199 for six for an overall lead of 192, a substantial total given the difficult nature of the pitch. Rahane, who was unbeaten on 46 (57b, 6x4) with the help of some delectable strokes, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (23 n.o.) had added 51 runs for the unbroken seventh wicket.

Vijay got hit on various parts of his body more times than the number of runs Hardik Pandya (4) scored and there were instances of all other batsmen getting struck at least once that forced the on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould to repeatedly inspect the pitch and gauze if it was fit to continue playing. The part of pitch towards the Media End was particularly dangerous for the batsmen as about six metres from the base of the stump there was no certainty of the bounce. The commentators observed that the bounce was awkward, very difficult and almost impossible to play on.

Earlier, KL Rahul couldn't get out his lean patch, failing for the fourth time in the series. Vijay couldn't keep out Kagiso Rabada's stinging yorker and Cheteshwar Pujara received a ripper from Morne Morkel. At 57 for three, India were staring at whitewash but Kohli, Rahane and Bhuvneshwar gutsed it out to brighten India's hopes.

Brief scores: India 187 and 199/6 in 65 overs (Virat Kohli 41, Ajinkya Rahane 44 n.o.; Vernon Philander 2-44, Kagiso Rabada 3-59) vs South Africa: 194 all out.

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