India rode on an unbroken 133-run stand between skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane to put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat in the fourth and final Test against South Africa in New Delhi on Saturday.
At the close of play, the hosts were 190-4 for a lead of 403 runs with six wickets in hand.
Skipper Kohli was batting on 83 with first-innings centurion Rahane on 52 at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
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India, who have already sealed the series 2-0 with wins in the first and third Tests, had bowled out the top-ranked tourists for 121 on Friday after making 334 for a first-innings lead of 213 runs. The hosts will look to further the lead on Sunday, giving the Proteas a massive victory target and giving themselves time to try and bowl them out for a 3-0 clean sweep.
Paceman Morne Morkel took 3-22 and Imran Tahir 1-29 to reduce India to 57-4 but the fifth wicket pair of Kohli and Rahane prevented a freefall.
After taking two wickets in the morning session, Morkel returned to pick his third scalp with a stinging yorker from around the wicket that sneaked under Shikhar Dhawan’s bat and hit the leg stump. Dhawan, celebrating his 30th birthday Saturday, faced 86 balls to make 21.
Cheteshwar Pujara (28) was castled by Imran Tahir soon after but the bowlers were denied any further success.
Kohli risked being fined for showing dissent to the umpire when he angrily stood his ground, hands on hips, to show his displeasure when he was given out caught behind off Tahir. The Indian skipper, on five then, was lucky to have the decision reversed as TV replays showed Tahir had overstepped.
The Indians were off to a shaky start in their second knock, losing two wickets with just eight runs on the board.
Opener Murali Vijay (three) was given out to a rising ball from Morkel that appeared to have grazed his armguard before flying through to wicketkeeper Dane Vilas, who leapt high in the air to take a one-handed catch over his head.
Vijay looked displeased with the decision, shaking his head and gesturing towards his arm guard as he walked off the ground.
Morkel struck again with the first ball of his next over to dismiss the struggling Rohit Sharma for a golden duck, the ball zipping past his bat and flattening the off-stump. Sharma’s best score in the series has been a 23 in Nagpur, raising doubts about his temperament in the longest form of the game.