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South Africa edge ahead in chase of 240

Dean Elgar was unbeaten on 46 at end of Day 3. © AFP

South Africa fought back well in the chase of 240 as they finish day 3 at 118/2. Skipper Dean Elgar was once again India's nemesis as he remained unbeaten at 46 off 121 deliveries. Earlier in the day, Pujara and Rahane notched up crucial half-centuries to take India to 266 and set an above par target of 240.

Starting the day at 85/2, both Pujara and Rahane continued batting positively. Both senior pros, who were perhaps playing to save their test careers, decided there was no point hanging around and looked to score every ball.

The fact that the South African bowlers bowled too full or too short also helped their cause as they racked up 51 runs in the first 10 overs of the day. India were 155/2 at one stage with a lead of 128 and threatened to take the game away from the Proteas.

As the game was slipping away, Kagiso Rabada, as he so often does, brought South Africa back into the game after the drinks break. He found the perfect back of a good length delivery to account for Rahane and trapped Pujara leg before with a similar ball. The most disappointing dismissal for India was that of Rishabh Pant. He was peppered with some short pitch bowling and also was wound up by the South Africans prior to the dismissal. He was caught behind after charging down the ground recklessly to Rabada of all people.

Sunil Gavaskar was not happy with Pant's shot selection and said on-air "You have got two new batsmen at the crease and then you saw that shot from Rishabh Pant. Forgettable, no excuses for that shot, no excuses. None of that nonsense about that being his natural game. There has to be some sense of responsibility shown. Because there are others taking the blows. There are guys like Rahane and Pujara who have taken it on their bodies. So you also fight it out," a miffed Gavaskar said on commentary.

Ashwin played some flashy strokes for his 16 but was dismissed by Ngidi and India went to lunch at 188/6. India's lower order added some crucial runs with Hanuma Vihari occupying the crease at one end. Shardul Thakur scored a quick-fire 28(24) and Vihari scored 40 as both batsmen played the short ball particularly well to guide India to 266.

Chasing an above par 240, South Africa got the start they wanted as Aiden Markram came out with a positive intent and scored 31 of 38 balls. The hard roller has been very effective throughout the test match with batting becoming relatively easy and that was the case this time around too. But Shardul Thakur once again came to India's rescue by breaking the 47-run opening stand dismissing Markram.

Elgar once again forged a decent partnership of 46 with Keegan Peterson. Just as the partnership was threatening, Ashwin took his first wicket of the test trapping Peterson lbw. Elgar and Van der Dussen ensured there were no more casualties as South Africa finished on 118/2.

South Africa have the upper hand going into day 4 with half the target wiped out and still 8 wickets in hand. The only solace for India is that the pitch has started to do some tricks with uneven bounce as Dean Elgar took some nasty blows in the final session.

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