Cricket

Three reasons why South Africa are ahead in 3rd Test

New-ball pitch:
It’s a new-ball pitch, as Jasprit Bumrah said on the third evening. South Africa had removed India’s top order within the 20-over mark. From then on, though the taller bowlers got some bounce, there wasn’t much seam movement on offer. Rishabh Pant played pretty compactly and though Virat Kohli was tied down in terms of scoring runs due to the well outside-off line, he wasn’t in great trouble either. The ease with which Pant batted told a story of its own. When the ball seams around, he can get into a tangle but he batted so comfortably well that it was clear that there were no demons – in terms of exaggerated movement – on the surface.

Taller bowlers:
Even with the new ball, when they dismissed the Indian top order, it was the taller South African bowlers Rabada and Marco Jansen who caused the damage. Jansen got it to bounce high and awkwardly at Cheteshwar Pujara who gloved it to leg slip. Ajinkya Rahane got a brute of a lifter from back of length from Kagiso Rabada that would have taken out most batsmen. It was deadlier than the famous deliveries that Ian Botham and Curtly Ambrose bowled to nail Sachin Tendulkar in the past. The Indian bowlers don’t have that height and have hardly extracted that kind of bounce. Even the South Africans couldn’t get that kind of bounce once the seam flattened out as the ball got older. And when they managed to get, Pant could swat it away with relative ease. Pre 25-over mark, Kohli had the balls leaping at his head a couple of times but post that, that kind of awkward bounce wasn’t seen as much.

Full length problem:
The Indian bowlers have prided themselves on hitting the right lengths, usually full-length, to hit the top of the off stump. But on this pitch, with abnormal bounce, their bowling was nullified to an extent. The South Africans took off-stump guard, with little or no trigger movement, and shifted their weight balance well to punch away those bouncing deliveries. Without the height of the South Africans, Indian bowlers couldn’t get it to bounce too awkwardly. And their natural line of attack on the stumps was already being nullified by the pitch’s extra bounce.

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