Keshav Maharaj and Vernon Philander brought some much-needed determination and fight to the Protea’s attempt at keeping the Freedom Series alive.
The pair defied the Indian attack for more than 40 overs in a record ninth-wicket stand of 109 on Saturday.
The day nevertheless finished with India still very much in control of the second Test match with a first innings lead of 326 and two full days left to play.
Maharaj scored his maiden Test match half-century (72 off 132 balls) and made the top score in the innings to emulate the performance of Pat Symcox against Pakistan in 1998 of a No. 10 batsman making the top score.
Philander finished unbeaten on 44 off 192 balls which was, as for Maharaj, his longest innings in Test cricket.
Their partnership was a new South African ninth wicket record against India, improving on the 91 that Senuran Muthusamy and Dane Piedt had managed in the previous Test match.
It was a gutsy performance from the two tail-enders with Maharaj favouring a right shoulder injury and Philander taking a couple of blows to his right hand.
What the pair have done is to take a significant amount of time out of the game and will have provided the inspiration to attempt to save the game even though a win is out of the equation.
The only other partnership of note was the 75 for the sixth wicket between Faf du Plessis, who made his second half-century of the series (64 off 117 balls, 9 fours and a six) and Quinton de Kock.
It remains to be seen whether the home side will enforce the follow on but they will be confident of forcing a result in the next two days regardless of whether they decide to bat again.
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