Thakur, India’s fourth seamer but fulfilling a key role as Mohammed Siraj was limited to just six overs on Tuesday due to a hamstring strain, claimed wonderful figures of 7/61 in 17.5 overs as the Proteas were bowled out for 229. They are the best ever figures for an Indian bowler against South Africa, beating the 7/66 off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took at Nagpur in 2015/16.
Leading by 27 runs on first innings, Marco Jansen and Duanne Olivier then each took a wicket each before Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane added 41 as India finished the second day 58 runs ahead with eight wickets in hand.
Elgar and Petersen
Resuming on 35/1, Dean Elgar and Keegan Petersen withstood a frustrating pitch for batsmen given the variable bounce and excessive movement off the surface, adding 74 for the second wicket to take the Proteas to 88/1. India, missing a bowler, were starting to feel the pressure as the morning burst from Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah had been weathered.
But Thakur, a bustling bowler of brisk pace, then roared through the top-order, taking three wickets in 16 deliveries, without conceding a run. Elgar was caught behind for a 170-minute 28 and Petersen scored a determined but positive 62, his maiden Test half-century in his sixth innings, before driving loosely and edging a catch to second slip.
Thakur’s third wicket was that of Rassie van der Dussen (1), who was given out caught behind on what became the last ball before lunch, having inside-edged a delivery that jagged back into him, and bounced more than expected, on to his back leg, from where it went to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.
But the South African camp were angered by the umpires not checking whether the catch was legitimate, replays showing the ball had bounced in front of Pant’s gloves. It was the second time in the morning session that he had claimed a catch on the bounce.
From 102/4 at lunch, Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne added 60 for the fifth wicket. But Thakur’s return half-an-hour before tea saw South Africa suffer two further setbacks as he trapped a leaden-footed Verreynne lbw for a useful 21 and then had Bavuma caught behind for 51, glancing a lifter down the leg-side and Pant taking a fine diving catch. It was Bavuma’s 17th Test half-century and he once again showed his grittiness and ability to make tough runs.
Jansen and Keshav Maharaj also made 21s to ensure India began their second innings marginally behind. They lost their openers inside the first dozen overs, Lokesh Rahul (8) being well-caught inches off the turf by Aiden Markram at second slip off left-armer Jansen, and Mayank Agarwal (23) shouldering arms to Olivier and being trapped lbw.
But the positive Pujara, who has hit seven fours off 42 balls, repelled an aggressive South African attack to shift the momentum again before stumps.