Under-fire senior batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane added a lifeline to their respective careers with crucial half-centuries on the third day in Johannesburg.
Having understood that time is indeed running out for them, both the batters decided not to try and hang around as they looked for scoring opportunities. The half volleys were driven imperiously and the width was dispatched disdainfully square off the wicket.
When Marco Jansen bowled one short, Rahane uncorked the slash over point for a six. Pujara’s 50 came off 62 balls while Rahane’s half-century was completed in 67, signalling that they were trying to show ‘intent’ and put team’s interest above everything else.
They hit 18 fours and a six between them.
There was a time when India were 155 for two with a lead of 128 and it seemed that South Africa’s propensity to bowl too short or too full was proving to be damaging.
But then Rabada, South Africa’s best exponent of fast bowling since Dale Steyn, produced a piece of inspiration that is so synonymous with traditional format.
Rabada found that ideal back of length where there is a crack and it landed there to deviate sharply, taking Rahane’s edge into keeper Kyle Verreynne’s gloves.
Pujara then got one from Olivier in the off-stump channel to be plumb despite lunging far forward.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Pujara and Rahane coming among runs again:
Both #Pujara and #Rahane have (or had) been going through a lean patch but the fact still remains that every time India has done well overseas in the last 13-14 months, both, or at least one of them, have made useful contributions. Take a look _#INDvsSA #SAvIND pic.twitter.com/0IfvIfsrpZ
— Rahul Rawat (@rawatrahul9) January 5, 2022
— Kushagra (@4kushagra5) December 29, 2021
Uncharacteristic celebration by Rahane after reaching his 50. Looking at his teammates and almost implying ‘you guys know and I know that I still belong here’ #INDvSAF #Rahane #SAvIND #SAFvIND pic.twitter.com/lJOlJy5Pvf
— Gav Joshi (@Gampa_cricket) January 5, 2022
— Abhishek Tripathi (@abhithecomic) January 5, 2022
— Forty-Five_ (@fortyfive09ro) January 5, 2022
— Jayanth VLK_ (@vlkjayanth_1718) January 5, 2022
— Sanjay S. Prakash (@Sanjay_SPrakash) January 5, 2022
— Aman (@_aman15_) January 5, 2022