India rode on some excellent batting from Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin to fight their way to a strong position at lunch on the second day of the fourth and final cricket Test against South Africa here at the Ferozshah Kotla on Friday.
Ajinkya Rahane scored 127 runs with 11 hits to the fence and four sixes to his name. He completed a well-deserved fifth Test century in style, smashing a powerful straight drive past pacer Kyle Abbott for a boundary.
Ravichandran Ashwin also batted well, bringing up his half-century with a six over long on off leg-spinner Imran Tahir. Ashwin and Rahane added 98 runs between them, the highest partnership of the series so far, to help the hosts reach 326/8 at lunch.
Ashwin got a reprieve when on 14 as he edged Abbott to the slips where South Africa skipper Hashim Amla dropped a difficult chance. He was unbeaten on 53 runs when the teams went in for lunch.
Tahir brought Rahane’s innings to end when the Mumbai batsman’s drive off a flighted delivery was snapped up by AB de Villiers at covers.
Umesh Yadav was giving Ashwin company at the break.
Tahir was the most successful among the Proteas bowlers in the morning session with figures of 1/59.
Resuming at the overnight score of 231/7, Rahane and Ashwin were off to a cautious start as they sought to salvage the situation.
South African pacers Morkel and Abbott bowled well to keep the Indian batsmen on a tight leash in the initial overs although neither managed to bag a wicket in the day's play till lunch..
With the South African pacers making the ball swing and also finding some lateral movement off the deck, Rahane and Ashwin batted well within themselves, punishing the occasional loose delivery.
The duo upped the scoring rate when spinners Dane Piedt and Dean Elgar came on to bowl.
Rahane punished Piedt in his first over of the day, smashing him for a boundary before dancing down the track to hit a six over long on in the very next ball.
After Tahir sent Rahane back to the pavilion, Ashwin took over the mantle, coming up with some excellent strokeplay to notch up a tally of six boundaries and a six as India clawed their way back into the game.