Internet Desk: Virat Kohli played one of the great innings in the young history of Test matches between India and the Standard Bank Proteas to leave the second Sunfoil Freedom Test match balanced on a knife edge after three days of intense competition between the two highest rank sides in world cricket at the moment.
By making 153 (217 balls, 15 fours) – his 21st Test century – he joined the illustrious company of Sachin Tendulkar in making a score in excess of 150 for India in a Test match in South Africa.
It was an outstanding innings by any standards but, when you put it into the context of the match situation in which he scored more than three times the runs of any of his compatriots and restricted the Proteas first innings lead to an insignificant 28 runs, its real value strikes home.
On a rain-shortened day the Proteas finished on 90/2 thanks to an unbroken stand of 87 between AB de Villiers and Dean Elgar for an overall lead of 118 runs with two full days still available and the home side will be looking to De Villiers, their own gladiator, to match the performance of Kohli.
The toast of Pretoria has yet to play a really big innings in this series although his contribution has been enormous when put into context and, like Kohli, he has brought an intensity to the crease that the other batsmen have not been able to match.
In the first Test at PPC Newlands he led a thrilling counter-attack after the Proteas had been reduced to 12/3 and made what turned out to be a match-winning first innings lead possible. Today he came to the crease at 3/2 in the sixth over and there is no knowing what he might achieve on his home ground, having already made 50 off only 78 balls with 6 fours.
The Proteas had their share of luck when India had to bowl with a wet ball on a wet outfield after an unscheduled thunder storm which resulted in the always threatening Ramichandran Ashwin being removed from the attack.
India had much the same luck in the first Test when the Proteas had to come out and bat on the fourth morning on a pitch that had been made more difficult by the previous day’s rain.
And it wasn’t all bad news for India as Jasprit Bumrah beat De Villiers with successive leg-cutters just before bad light had the final say.
It is now up to somebody on either side to seize the moment on day four. Kohli has already done it as has Ashwin who has not only been the most threatening bowler in the match but also helped Kohli in an invaluable lower-order partnership of 71 for the seventh wicket without which even Kohli could not have closed down the first innings deficit.