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Kohli’s 21st Test hundred keeps India afloat

Centurion: India pacer Jasprit Bumrah produced a fiery spell to strike a double blow before AB de Villiers steadied the South Africa ship, leaving the hosts with a 88-run lead  on day three of the second Test here.

Bumrah took 2-19 as South Africa were reduced to 60 for two in their second innings.

The hosts lead by an overall 88 runs after India were bowled out for 307 (92.1 overs) in their first innings, thus conceding a 28-run deficit.

This was after Virat Kohli scored 153 runs (217 balls, 15 fours) to keep India in the game.

Post lunch, he tried to shield Ishant Sharma (3) and their partnership for the ninth wicket lasted nearly nine overs during which they put up 25 runs.

But Morne Morkel (4-60) accounted for Ishant off a short ball in the 91st over and then two overs later Kohli was last man out, caught at long on.

Before lunch, Kohli struck his 21st hundred as India reached 287 for eight. Starting from overnight 183 for five, he and Hardik Pandya (15) took their overnight sixth wicket partnership to 45 runs. In doing so, they helped India cross 200 in the 65th over.

Kohli then reached his hundred off 146 balls, inclusive of 10 fours. He became the first overseas captain to score a Test hundred at Centurion. The previous highest for a visiting captain at this ground was 90 by MS Dhoni in 2010.

Additionally, he became only the second Indian skipper to score a Test hundred on South African soil, after Sachin Tendulkar at Cape Town in 1997. This was Kohli s second Test hundred in South Africa, the second-most after Tendulkar who has five Test hundreds here.

However, Kohli’s joy was cut short as another suicidal moment of running between the wickets gifted South Africa a breakthrough, as Pandya was run-out for not dragging his bat in.

He had set off for a run in the 68th over, only for Kohli to send him back but Vernon Philander s throw from mid-on beat him by inches as Pandya didn t drag his bat or even grounded his foot.

Kagiso Rabada (1-73) then bowled a testing spell spell to Ashwin (38, 54 balls, 7 fours), but the batsman managed to survive a barrage of short balls, despite being hit on his left hand. He countered by taking three boundaries off Rabada in his next over.

The duo continued to score at a good pace and brought up their 50-stand off 62 balls.

South Africa took the second new ball in the 82nd over, and Philander immediately struck. Ashwin was caught at second slip off his third delivery. He put on vital 71 runs with Kohli for the seventh wicket.

In the very next over, Morkel had Mohammed Shami (1) caught at first slip as Kohli began to run out of partners.

On day one, South Africa won the toss and chose to bat with the pitch surprising everyone with its flat nature. Aiden Markram scored 94 and Hashim Amla made 82.

On day two, India s reply was accentuated by Murali Vijay s 46 as he put on 79 runs with Kohli. Cheteshwar Pujara was run out for a golden duck and Rohit Sharma only made 10 runs.

South Africa won the first Test in Cape Town by 72 runs and lead the three-Test series 1-0.

PTI

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