Mohali, Nov 7 (IANS) The Indian bowlers blew away the South African top order on a rapidly deteriorating wicket as the hosts fought their way to a strong position at tea on the third day of the first Test being played at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium here on Saturday. The Proteas, who were struggling to come to terms with the copious turn and variable bounce, were in deep trouble at 56/5 in their second innings in pursuit of a victory target of 218 runs. Ravindra Jadeja (2-11) dismissed Vernon Philander and Hashim Amla while Amit Mishra (1-19), Ravichandran Ashwin (1-23) and fast bowler Varun Aaron (1-3) also bagged a wicket each. India, who had started the day at 125/2 in their second innings, were all out for 200 shortly after lunch. Imran Tahir (4-48) and Simon Harmer (4-61) spun the web around the Indian batsmen to grab four-wicket hauls.But the South Africans could not rejoice for long as the Indian bowlers quickly grabbed the advantage on a helpful wicket. Jadeja struck the opening blow for India when he trapped Vernon Philander leg before with his first ball of the day. Ashwin justified India skipper Virat Kohli’s decision to open the attack with spin bowlers when he dismissed Faf du Plessis in the very next over. Ashwin unleashed a flighted delivery that straightened after pitching as du Plessis offered an easy catch to the slips. The Indian spinners continued to dominate and the South Africans were in deep trouble when the in-form AB de Villiers went back to the pavilion shortly after Amla’s dismissal. De Villiers was fooled by the variable bounce of the rapidly deteriorating wicket when a Mishra delivery kept low after pitching before crashing into the stumps. Earlier in the morning, the Harmer and Tahir sliced through the Indian middle and lower order to leave the hosts struggling at 185/8 in their second innings at lunch Harmer returned figures of 56-3 and Tahir – who bagged two wickets in the morning session – returned 3-39 as the Proteas dominated the session. 

India were 202 ahead at lunch, with Wriddhiman Saha batting on eight. Overnight batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was the highest scorer for the Indians with 77. India started the day in a steady manner before part-time seamer Stiaan van Zyl sent back Virat Kohli when the Indian skipper attempted a drive only to offer an edge to Dane Vilas behind the stumps. Imran Tahir got the second breakthrough for South Africa soon after with his first ball of the day when he had Pujara caught by Hashim Amla at slip. Pujara hit one six and half a dozen boundaries during his stay at the middle. Ajinkya Rahane survived only nine balls before Temba Bavuma took a fine catch at forward short-leg to give Harmer his first of the day. Harmer then dismissed Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra in quick succession to reduce the hosts to 182/7. Jadeja was trapped leg before while Mishra was caught at square-leg as he went for a pull shot. Ashwin pushed India’s lead past the 200-run mark before Tahir found his outer edge with the last ball before lunch as Amla pulled off another fine effort in the slips.

Scoreboard at tea on the third day of the first Test between India and South Africa being played at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium here on Saturday.

India (first innings 201) South Africa (1st innings 184) India (2nd innings, overnight 125/2) Murali Vijay c sub (Bavuma) b Tahir 47 Shikhar Dhawan c de Villiers b Philander 0 Cheteshwar Pujara c Amla b Tahir 77 Virat Kohli c Vilas b van Zyl 29 Ajinkya Rahane c sub (Bavuma) b Harmer 2 Ravindra Jadeja lbw b Harmer 8 Wriddhiman Saha c Vilas b Tahir 20 Amit Mishra c du Plessis b Harmer 2 Ravichandran Ashwin c Amla b Tahir 3 Umesh Yadav b Harmer 1 Varun Aaron not out 1 Extras: (9b, 1lb) 10 TOTAL: (all out) 200 Fall of wickets: 1-9, 2-95, 3-161, 4-164, 5-164, 6-178, 7-182, 8-185, 9-188, 10-200. Bowling: Vernon Philander 12-3-23-1 Simon Harmer 24-6-61-4 Dean Elgar 7-1-34-0 Imran Tahir 16.3-1-48-4 Kagiso Rabada 12-7-19-0 Stiaan van Zyl 4-1-5-1 South Africa 2nd innings Dean Elgar c Kohli b Aaron 16 Vernon Philander lbw b Jadeja 1 Faf du Plessis c Rahane b Ashwin 1 Hashim Amla b Jadeja 0 AB de Villiers b Mishra 16 Stiaan van Zyl not out 15 Dane Vilas not out 6 Extras (w 1) 1 Total (for five wickets; 21 overs) 56 Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Philander, 1.1 overs), 2-9 (du Plessis, 2.2), 3-10 (Amla, 3.5), 4-32 (de Villiers, 9.5), 5-45 (Elgar, 16.4) Bowling: Ravichandran Ashwin 8-3-23-1 Ravindra Jadeja 4-0-11-2 Amit Mishra 6-0-19-1 Varun Aaron 3-0-3-1

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