Philander, Maharaj stitch a century partnership but SA concede 326-run lead
- Philander and Maharaj batted for about 43 overs, among the best efforts by a ninth-wicket pair or lower in India.
- In the process, Philander and Maharaj ended the speculation that this Test could get over in three days.
- Philander and Maharaj also showed their more accomplished batsmen a trick or two.
Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj (Test best: 72 runs, 132b, 12x4s) and paceman Vernon Philander (44*, 192b, 6x4s) added 109 runs for the ninth wicket and ensured South Africa replied with 275 all out to India's total of 601-5 declared on the third day of second Test here on Saturday.
They also showed their more accomplished batsmen a trick or two. And mind you, this pitch is far from demoralizing for the bowlers of any variety.
India, 326 runs ahead, will have to convey their follow-on decision on Sunday morning.
Maharaj and Philander had struggled on the first two days of the ongoing at the Gahunje stadium here. They didn't go that extra distance with the ball. While Maharaj wilted under pressure applied by India's batsmen, Philander could only induce edges. Maharaj even dropped Virat Kohli when the batsman was batting on just three on Day 1.
No. 9 Philander, who got a pair in Vizag, took 22 balls to open his account. No. 10 Maharaj showed his grit and alertness, batting despite a shoulder injury. When he hit a pulled four, a physio was summoned at the crease to check the batsman's condition.
India also dropped two catches but those didn't cost them much. Ashwin missed a sharp caught and bowled chance off Maharaj (on 44, team 238-8) low to his right. And Kohli grassed Muthusamy (on 6, team 135-6) at short widish mid-on.
Ashwin finally removed Maharaj as the ninth South African wicket when Rohit Sharma caught him at leg slip. The offie also removed Vizag's first-innings centurion, Quinton de Kock, with a ball that spun and clipped the bails. The batsman was clueless thinking the team was appealing for either caught behind or stumped.
In the first session, Wriddhiman Saha showed why he is dubbed as the best wicket-keeper in India and picked ahead of Rishabh Pant. He took a sharp catch in front of the first slip to dismiss De Bruyn off Umesh Yadav.
But then he showed his worth with a square driven four off Ishant and two fours off Jadeja: a classic cover drive followed by another drive, this beating extra-cover to his left.