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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

SA face spin ordeal after India out for 215

South Africa 11 for 2 trail India 215 (Vijay 40, Harmer 4-78, Morkel 3-35) by 204 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Not long into the first hour of the third Test, the Nagpur pitch looked like it had been played on for days. The dry surface, spider-webbed like a cracked windshield, had already developed significant rough patches because of the bowlers' follow-throughs and once Morne Morkel found the right length for the conditions, and offspinner Simon Harmer the ideal pace, survival was an ordeal for the batsmen. India did not make it through the day, lasting only 78.2 overs.

In the nine overs South Africa faced before stumps, they glimpsed the severity of the challenge ahead, having lost a crucial toss. R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja spun the ball plenty and got it to bounce too. Stiaan van Zyl fell to Ashwin's drift and turn, prodding an offbreak to slip, and the nightwatchman Imran Tahir was bowled by Jadeja's accurate left-arm spin. They ended the day on 11 for 2, the deficit of 204 acquiring formidable proportions.

India did not look like they would get as far as 215 - the highest total of this spinner-dominant series - at one stage. Had there been more bounce to go with the prodigious turn, the pitch would have been near unplayable, but South Africa took a while to figure out the best method of attack. During that time India progressed to 50 for 0: M Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan bringing up their second consecutive half-century stand. They then lost six wickets for 75 runs.

Morkel and Kagiso Rabada had pitched too short in their first spells. While they were quick through the air, their 140kph-plus deliveries deflated after pitching, and the batsmen enjoyed the luxury of time. One short delivery from Morkel took so long to arrive that Vijay simply hung back and swatted it to the wide mid-on boundary, and even the short stuff from Kagiso Rabada, who had harried the Indian batsmen in the limited-overs games, was easily dealt with by Dhawan. There was just no carry.

India were 33 for 0 in eight overs when Harmer, playing ahead of Kyle Abbott, and left-arm spinner Dean Elgar began their tandem act. There were bursts of dust from the surface, and balls spun sharply to beat the bat or hit the pad, but Elgar's pace was a bit too slow for the surface, while Harmer's line from round the wicket to the right-handers was too straight for the lbw to come into play.

Vijay was lucky when he charged Harmer and missed, the ball grazing his inside edge and beating the wicketkeeper Dane Vilas by a long way, but he attempted the shot again two deliveries later and cleared long-on. It was the start of a tough day for Vilas, who conceded 15 runs in byes. The 50 partnership came up in 13.4 overs, but success came two balls later for South Africa.

Dhawan stepped out of his crease and pushed too hard at a slow one from Elgar, the turning delivery lobbing back off the inside edge to the bowler, who dived across the stumps to take a sharp catch. While Elgar and Harmer were economical, Imran Tahir's first two overs were a disappointment - a full toss and long hop allowed Cheteshwar Pujara to flick and cut to the boundary - and he did not bowl again until after tea.

When Morkel returned for his second spell, he bowled fuller lengths and was immediately a greater threat than he had been with the new ball. Hanging back in the crease was dangerous now and Vijay fell - hit on the knee roll by the fullest delivery Morkel had bowled until then, one that straightened and kept so low, rendering it unplayable.

Pujara and Kohli took India to 85 for 2 at lunch, but South Africa were accurate after the break and struck regularly. While Rabada kept it tight - ending with 1 for 30 in 17 overs - Harmer got the ball to spit viciously. One such delivery from round the wicket spun past Kohli's leg stump for byes - Vilas barely moved - and another beat Pujara's inside edge to trap him plumb in front.

Ajinkya Rahane was jittery, charging to loft Harmer over long-on off his sixth delivery, and eventually lost his off stump to Morkel, the full ball swinging in sharply through the gap between bat and pad as he played a loose drive. Despite the pitch offering so much turn, South Africa attacked Kohli's vulnerability outside off stump persistently with pace and it paid off. Morkel produced another full ball, swinging away this time, and Kohli chased and edged to Vilas.

Morkel was now hooping reverse-swing yorkers to the right-handers, but Rohit Sharma managed to keep them out. He could not keep out a sharp offbreak from Harmer, though, and was caught at bat-pad, leaving India 125 for 6. Having bowled 20 overs in the day, however, Harmer began to tire and dropped short frequently to Jadeja, who capitalised with three quick boundaries before tea.

The early part of the final session was good for India, as South Africa's spinners bowled ordinary lengths, and Morkel went off the field because of a niggle after bowling the first ball of his 17th over. Jadeja had lofted Morkel straight and slashed him to third man, before he inside-edged Rabada on to his stumps. He had added 48 with Wriddhiman Saha for the seventh wicket, the second-highest partnership of the innings. Saha was the only Indian batsman to play more than 100 deliveries, and after he was athletically caught by Duminy at short midwicket with the score on 201, India's last two wickets managed only 14 more.

Long standing

30.4

Overs played by the previous longest stand in the series, between Vijay and Pujara. This is now the longest.

Amla's longest

97

Most balls faced by Hashim Amla in his previous 9 inns on this tour. This is the first time he has faced 100+ balls in an inns.

SA show greater patience

160

Dots played by South Africa batsmen in the first inns. They have already played more in this innings.

Faf's done it before

134

Runs scored by Faf du Plessis the last time the batted against India in the fourth innings of a Test, in Johannesburg, 2013.

A fifty for the year

2008

Last time an India bowler took 50 Test wickets in a year - Harbhajan Singh took 63. Only 12 instances including Ashwin's.

SA again

2007

Last time before this 25 or more wickets fell in the first five sessions in a Test: SA v Pak, Cape Town.

Only once before

1978

The only other time Ind surpassed their opposition's 1st inns total for the loss of 2 or fewer wkts in the 2nd inns: v WI 1978-79, Kolkata.

A new low, again

82

The previous lowest total against Ind in Tests, SL in Chandigarh in 1990. SA were bundled out for 3 runs short of that in this inns.

A new low

12

This is the lowest score on which SA have lost half their side in a Test innings. Previous lowest was 14, v Aus in 1902

Ashwin - the opener

1910

The last time a spinner took more wickets than Ashwin's 56 in Tests when he opened the bowling. Colin Blythe took 74.

Harmer's milestone

250

First-class wickets for Simon Harmer; Among SA spinners, only Imran Tahir has taken more wickets since Harmer's debut.

At home with the bat

42.00

Ashwin's bat ave in home Tests. Only 3 India batsmen - Pujara, Kohli and Vijay - have scored more than his 630 runs in India.

Same opposition

2008

Last time India were 6 down for fewer runs in the 1st inns of a home Test - also against SA, in Ahmedabad. They were 55/6 then.