Smith, Amla wickets hurt South Africa's hefty pursuit

India

India are just eight wickets away from taking a one-nil lead against South Africa in Johannesburg, where the first contest of the two-match Test series is taking place.

India are just eight wickets away from taking a one-nil lead against South Africa in Johannesburg, where the first contest of the two-match Test series is taking place.

At stumps on day four the Proteas were 320 runs away from what would be a historical run chase, with Alviro Petersen unbeaten on 76 while Faf du Plessis has scored 10 in the time he has spent as a makeshift nightwatchman.

It marked the first time in 11 innings that Petersen passed the 30-run mark and the first time that he has scored more than 40 in a second innings.

Although he was tempted outside the off-stump on a number occasions, he survived on a batting surface that won't be improving.

Du Plessis was promoted up the order ahead of AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis after Hashim Amla returned to the dressing room for four when failing to play a shot.

It marked the second time in the match Amla was bowled leaving a delivery he thought would never hit his stumps although, in his defence, the Mohammed Shami ball that dislodged his bails did pitch very short and kept low.

In the first innings Amla saw an Ishant Sharma delivery crash into the woodwork thinking it was going to miss his off-stump. On that occasion the ball nipped back off the track that was starting to come alive.

Asked by Cricket365, after the first leave, whether there was a worse way to go, Amla insisted there was.

His theory was proven by opener Graeme Smith who tried to sneak through for a quick single, only to be run out by Ajinkya Rahane with his team still needing 349 for the unlikely win.

Smith would depart for 44, and had only himself to blame and was under no pressure to up the scoring rate as his men have to survive a full day's play to avoid defeat.

He would also have been informed that the last time a match was drawn at the Bullring was back in 2000, when New Zealand toured the country.

Earlier in his innings the Proteas captain survived a close call after Virat Kohli put him down while fielding at leg slip in what would have been Zaheer Khan's 300 Test victim.

At that stage Smith had only two runs to his name.

As his innings progressed he settled into his normal routine and struck the ball as cleanly as he did in the first innings – again looking to set for a big score.

Then came the run-out and after Amla's departure, du Plessis and Petersen prevailed under floodlights where they faced wicketkeeper MS Dhoni's off-cutters.

Dhoni, unlike his counterpart AB De Villiers, completed two overs while conceding only four runs.

Unlike the first three days that started with overcast conditions aiding the bowlers, day three got underway with clear skies in what can only be described as ideal batting conditions.

The Proteas will be hoping for more of the same and, when considering that more than 300 runs were scored on day four, they might even fancy their chances to pull off one of the greatest wins in the game.

<i>Michael Mentz at the Wanderers</i>

Latest