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Ind v/s SA: First Test heading for an exciting finish

Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli

The first cricket Test between India and South Africa seemed headed for an exciting finish with the hosts needing to score 320 runs with eight wickets remaining on a tricky last day to pull off a record-breaking victory
 Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli

Johannesburg: The first cricket Test between India and South Africa seemed headed for an exciting finish with the hosts needing to score 320 runs with eight wickets remaining on a tricky last day to pull off a record-breaking victory here.

Set a stiff target of 458 for victory after India scored 421 in their second innings, the hosts put up a better batting display to reach 138 for two at close on the penultimate day today on a Wanderers track which seemed to have eased out quite a bit.

Alviro Petersen (76 batting) and Faf du Plessis (10 batting) were at the crease at stumps on another absorbing day’s play which has set the stage for a thrilling finish with all three results a possibility.

A South African victory looks remote at this stage as no team has ever successfully chased down a target of 458 in Test history so far. The highest successful run chase in Test cricket has been achieved by West Indies who scored 418 for seven to beat Australia in St Johns in 2003.

With the pitch showing no signs of any rapid deterioration, the Indians may find the going tough to push for a 1-0 series lead on the final day’s play tomorrow, considering that the Proteas have a strong batting line-up.

The Proteas, on the other hand, will look to bat out the entire day to avoid the embarrassment of a defeat at home.

Resuming at the overnight score of 284 for two, the Indians rode on the marathon 222-run partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara (153) and Virat Kohli (96) for the third wicket to take a substantial lead.

The 222-run partnership was the highest stand for third wicket in a Test match second innings overseas. They bettered the long-standing record of 211 runs for the third wicket between Vinoo Mankad and Vijay Hazare at the Lord’s in 1952.

Kohli was unlucky to miss out on a twin century as he was out for 96 in the opening session today after hitting 119 in India’s first innings.

PTI

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