Lungi Ngidi. Picture: REUTERS
Lungi Ngidi. Picture: REUTERS

New fast bowling discovery Lungi Ngidi plunged India into deep trouble as they struggled in pursuit of a victory target of 287 on the fourth day of the second Test against SA at SuperSport Park on Tuesday.

India were 35/3 at the close, having lost both openers and the key wicket of captain Virat Kohli on a pitch with uneven bounce.

The hosts will head into the final day confident of picking up the seven wickets they need to wrap up victory in the three-match series, after a 72-run win in the first Test at Cape Town.

The unpredictability of the wicket contributed to the dismissal of Murali Vijay, who was bowled off an inside edge by a ball from Kagiso Rabada which cut back at him and kept low.

Debutante Ngidi, who came on as first change, took a wicket with his first ball of the innings when Lokesh Rahul played a loose forcing shot off the back foot and was caught at backward point.

That brought Kohli, who made 153 in the first innings, to the wicket.

Ngidi, 21, forced India’s champion batsman to play defensively before he scored his first runs with an edge for four which flew wide off third slip.

Kohli had scored five when he went back on his stumps to a ball which cut back sharply and struck him on the pad.

Kohli sought a review of umpire Michael Gough’s decision but replays showed the ball heading to the top of middle stump.

India had been reduced to 26/3. Ngidi caused more damage when the left-handed Parthiv Patel was struck in the ribs and collapsed to the turf. Patel recovered and battled to five not out at the close.

Ngidi, playing in only his tenth first-class match, took 2/14 in six overs.

SA could have had a fourth wicket when Cheteshwar Pujara was beaten by a ball from Morné Morkel. Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock started to appeal but was not supported by Morkel or the slip fielders, but replays showed a faint edge.

The slowness and uneven bounce of the pitch made for slow going as SA ground out 258 in their second innings.

There was some bright batting early in the day when AB de Villiers and Dean Elgar added 54 runs in the first hour, taking their third-wicket partnership to 141.

But De Villiers was caught behind for 80, made off 121 balls, and Elgar followed soon after.

Mohammed Shami dismissed both batsmen and finished with 4/49, taking three wickets in four overs.

SA captain Faf du Plessis and Vernon Philander put on a painstaking 46 in 26 overs to ensure India would have to chase more than 250.

Du Plessis was ninth out for 48 off 141 balls. In the slowest cricket of the series, SA scored only 57 runs for the loss of two wickets in 27 overs and two-and-a-quarter hours.

Proteas opener Aiden Markram will not be fielding as a result of a left quadricep strain and he is a doubt for the third Test starting at the Wanderers next Wednesday. Markram was replaced by Theunis de Bryun on the field on Tuesday.

The International Cricket Council said on Tuesday they had fined Kohli 25% of his match fee and gave him a demerit point for an incident on Monday.

He was sanctioned for repeatedly complaining to umpire Gough about a damp ball after a rain delay and aggressively throwing the ball to the floor.

AFP, Reuters, additional reporting by Mahlatse Mphahlele

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