Pant scores ton but India have only 211 to defend
South Africa score 101/2 in chase
Cape Town: Chasing 212 to win the series, South Africa were 101 for two at stumps on the third day of the third match against India, here on Thursday.
Mohammed Shami removed Aiden Markram (16) early but skipper Dean Elgar (30) and Keegan Petersen (48) batted superbly. The South African skipper fell towards the end. Earlier, Rishabh Pant scored one of his finest hundreds in most adverse of circumstance but another shoddy batting show left India with only 211 runs to defend. Pant's (100 not out off 139 balls) fourth Test hundred constituted for more than 50 percent of India's second innings total of 198 with Virat Kohli's 29 off 143 balls being the second highest individual score.
The umpires called for tea break at the fall of final Indian wicket in the extended second session. This was the first Test match in 145-year-history where all 20 batters of one team were caught. The day belonged to Pant as he scored a hundred which is as good as one would ever see and what stood out was his shot selection, which was immaculate. He didn't do anything that was 'un-Pant' like as there was a rasping square cut off a rising one from Kagiso Rabada (3/53).
There was the audacious down the track cover drive off Duanne Olivier and that six over long-on off Keshav Maharaj came just an over before lunch. These are all shots that one associates with the dashing keeper-batter but what was exemplary was his use of discretion as to what kind of deliveries he would attack.
In between defending the good balls, he drove Maharaj out of the attack with a one-handed slog sweep and a six over long-off. When Olivier dug one short at his pace, it was pulled for six as he hit six fours and four sixes in all.
Skipper Virat Kohli's presence during a 94-run stand definitely helped that he had that guiding light in the middle as he went about his job. Once Pant had unsettled the line and length of the Proteas pace unit, Dean Elgar opened the field allowing them to rotate the strike but once Kohli perished outside the off-stump, it was only Pant who had to take the burden.
The other highlight was his batting with the tail, taking a single off either the fourth or fifth delivery shielding the Number 9, 10 and 11 as much as possible.