South African top-scorer Keegan Petersen praised the quality of India’s bowling after his side fell short of the tourists on the second day of the third Test at Newlands on Wednesday. Jasprit Bumrah took five for 42 as South Africa were bowled out for 210, giving India a first innings lead of 13 runs, which they stretched to 70 in reaching 57 for two at the close. The slightly-built Petersen, playing in his fifth Test, made 72 but the fragility of the home team’s batting was exposed, with no other batsman scoring more than Temba Bavuma’s 28.
“It’s extremely challenging, the most challenging I have faced in my whole career,” said Petersen. “We have to be focused and on your mark all the time or they will expose you.” Petersen hit nine fours in his 166-ball innings but said scoring was never easy. “There are not many scoring opportunities. When they do give you an opportunity you have to pounce on it – but they haven’t given us much.”
South Africa hit back at the start of the second innings with Kagiso Rabada dismissing Mayank Agarwal and Marco Jansen accounting for KL Rahul. But Cheteshwar Pujara and an assured Virat Kohli prevented any further breakthroughs and gave India a useful lead in what has been a low-scoring match, continuing the pattern of a bowler-dominated series which is tied at 1-1. “We are a bit behind the eight-ball,” admitted Petersen. “If we can get early wickets tomorrow it will be brilliant.”
Although batting conditions on a bright, sunny day appeared to be easier than on the overcast first day, Petersen said the pitch was still giving help to the bowlers. “The ball is nipping around and it is squatting at one end and the other end it is bouncing a bit,” he said. Bumrah gave India the ideal start on Wednesday. Having dismissed South African captain Dean Elgar on the first evening he made his second ball of the day swerve in, deceiving Aiden Markram, who padded up and saw his off stump knocked back. Bumrah was Kohli’s go-to bowler all day and finished with his seventh five-wicket haul in Tests. But Mohammed Shami made two crucial strikes in the space of three deliveries after South Africa had seemed well-placed at 159 for four shortly before tea.
Petersen and Bavuma were both batting relatively comfortably. But the consistently accurate Shami produced a ball which climbed on Bavuma, forcing an edge which was taken by Kohli at second slip. Two balls later Kyle Verreynne prodded at a good-length delivery from Shami and was caught behind for nought, leaving South Africa with no more recognised batsmen to partner Petersen. Bumrah followed by bowling Jansen with the last ball before tea and then had Petersen caught at first slip in the second over after the interval. Petersen batted with skill and application in partnerships of 67 with Rassie van der Dussen (21) and 47 with Bavuma.
Rabada had a hostile opening spell when India started their second innings. Agarwal was given out caught behind but won a reprieve when a review showed the ball had brushed a pad and not the inside edge of his bat. But Agarwal made only seven before edging Rabada to Elgar at first slip. Jansen struck in the next over when KL Rahul was caught at second slip.