India on brink of Test sweep over South Africa

Ranchi (India) (AFP) –


Pace duo Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav had India on the brink of a series whitewash after South Africa crumpled while following-on in the third Test and saw batsman Dean Elgar suffer a wincing blow to the helmet.

At the end of the third day the tourists were on 132-8, trailing India by 203 runs, with replacement batsman Theunis de Bruyn on 30 and Anrich Nortje, on five.

De Bruyn came in under the new concussion sub rule after opener Elgar took a nasty hit on the helmet from a short delivery by Yadav, and had to retire hurt on 16.

The impact left the opener shaken as he lay on the ground getting physio assistance.

A South Africa team spokeswoman Sipokazi Sokanyile said Elgar was taken off as a "precaution".

Events did not improve for South Africa, however, with Shami claiming three wickets, including South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis for four, while Yadav struck twice.

Zubayr Hamza, top scorer in South Africa's first innings, indicated that his teammates had concentrated too much on India's spin threat and been taken by surprise by the fast bowlers.

"I would say, based on the general thought of playing in India, you'd assume that it would be tougher to play against the spinners," said Hamza, who made 62 in his team's first innings.

"I wouldn't say we under-prepared against the seamers. I will just say that maybe we should have prepared more mentally in terms of playing them in whatever conditions that we were faced."

South Africa's first innings ended on 162 earlier as they chased India's 497-9 declared.

The hosts made them bat again, and Yadav drew first blood, getting left-hander Quinton de Kock -- who was promoted to open the innings -- for five.

Shami took over to get first innings hero Hamza for nought with a delivery that rattled his off stump.

The pace spearhead then got du Plessis' prized scalp and Temba Bavuma caught behind for nought.

Spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin also took a wicket each to force an extension of the final session but de Bruyn and Nortje survived the final few overs.

- Day of firsts -

India's wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha suffered a finger injury in the final session and Rishabh Pant took over. According to new rules that allowed a concussion sub, a team is also allowed to replace a wicket-keeper.

Shahbaz Nadeem, making his debut at the age of 30, also claimed two wickets with his left-arm spin and said it was a "dream" to play for the national side after taking 424 first-class scalps in Indian domestic competition.

Hamza, playing just his second Test, was happy to score his maiden Test half-century to offer some resistance during his 91-run fourth-wicket stand with Bavuma, who made 32.

"But also disappointed in the same breath, not having gone on to make use of that opportunity. And the first time that I've been out twice in the same day, so it's been a tough day. Really disappointing for the side."

Opening batsman Rohit Sharma put India in command of the match with his maiden Test double century on Sunday. He made 212.

India won the first two Tests by big margins in Visakhapatnam and Pune.