Nagpur, Nov 27 (IANS) Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin picked up two wickets as India reduced South Africa to 105/4 at lunch to inch closer to victory on the third day of the third Test at the Vidarba Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium here on Friday. Ashwin removed opener Dean Elgar and the dangerous AB de Villiers too for figures of 3/35 in the second innings. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was also going strong at the other end, although he is yet to claim a wicket in the second innings.
South Africa captain Hashim Amla (28) and Faf du Plessis (23) were unbeaten at the break, putting on 47 runs for the fifth wicket to ensure the visiting side crossed the 100-run mark. The Proteas need another 205 runs to win and have six wickets in hand. Staring the day at 32/2, South Africa suffered an early blow when Dean Elgar got a thick inside edge off an Ashwin delivery.
The ball rebounded off the pads for a simple catch by Cheteshwar Pujara at silly point. De Villiers seemed to be in good nick and even smashed Jadega for a boundary through mid-off. But Ashwin accounted for the experienced South African with a carrom ball that kept straight after pitching. De Villiers misread the spin of the ball which hit the rear leg and the umpire had no hesitation in awarding a leg before decision.
That brought Amla to the middle and the South African skipper proceeded to put up a spirited fightback along with du Plesis. The duo managed to hold off the Indian bowlers although they were finding it difficult to negotiate the dificult pitch. India currently lead the four-Test series 1-0 after winning the first encounter at Mohali. The second match in Mohali was washed out due to heavy rain. A win here would see India clinch the series.
India were only four wickets away from victory as South Africa struggled at 151/6 at tea on Day 3 of the third Test being played at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here on Friday. Resuming the innings post-lunch at 105/4, South Africa scored 46 more runs in 31 overs, giving away two wickets during the second session of the day. The visitors lost skipper Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis — both getting out for identical score of 39 runs — while chasing the target of 310 runs — both falling to leg-spinner Amit Mishra.
The following is the scoreboard at lunch on the third day of the third Test between India and South Africa being played at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium here on Friday:
India (First innings): 215 South Africa (First innings) 79 India (Second innings): 173
South Africa (Second innings) (Overnight 32/2): Dean Elgar c Pujara b Ashwin 18 Stiaan van Zyl c Rohit b Ashwin 5 Imran Tahir lbw b Mishra 8 Hashim Amla batting 28 AB de Villiers lbw b Ashwin 9 Faf du Plessis batting 23
Extras: (8b, 2lb, 4nb) 14
Total: (For 4 wickets; 45 overs) 105
Fall of wickets: 1-17 (van Zyl 3.1 overs), 2-29 (Tahir 6.5), 3-40 (Elgar 9.5), 4-58 (de Villeirs 12.3)
Bowling: Ishant Sharma 9-3-16-0 Ravichandran Ashwin 15-2-35-3 Ravindra Jadeja 14-7-24-0 Amit Mishra 7-0-20-1