4th Test: South Africa flattened after Rahane, Jadeja heroics

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NEW DELHI: South Africa's troubles against spin continued with another abject batting performance, one that spanned 49.3 overs on the second day at the Feroz Shah Kotla, on a track that was nowhere near as spiteful as Nagpur or Mohali. This was just poor batting against accurate bowling, led by Ravindra Jadeja's 5/30.

Making South Africa's collapse to 121 all the more alarming was that it took place on the same track on which Ajinkya Rahane stroked his way to a silken 127 - the first century of the series and the longest a player has batted - while adding the highest partnership of the series (98) with R Ashwin, who scored 56.

Such a meek batting effort also pushed into the shade some excellent bowling from Kyle Abbott, whose figures of 24.5-7-40-5 gave the visitors something to take from an otherwise chastening 117.5 overs in the field. This South African team is spent, physically and mentally, of that there is no doubt. India, with a lead of 213, will look to bury them on day three.

The Kotla surface was not a rank turner as seen in Mohali and Nagpur, but still required plenty of application and skill, and it was fitting that Rahane was the man to reach a significant landmark for it was at this venue that he made a forgettable debut in 2013. With this excellent century, Rahane has also pushed his batting average in India from under eight to 24.85.

Rahane's fluidity harked back to his sublime Lord's century last summer, and for sheer value it will rank alongside that match-winning effort. He took 24 deliveries spanning nearly 45 minutes to move from 89 to 100, but once his first century in Indian was achieved with a push past the stumps for four off Morne Morkel, and then punctuated with a pump of the fists as he raised his bat, Rahane started purring.

He sashayed down to Dane Piedt and clubbed two sixes in an over, one wide of deep midwicket and the other over long-off, and followed up by hitting Dean Elgar's left-arm spin inside out over cover for four. In between these attractive hits were delicate dabs square on the offside and controlled bunts to leg. It was fluent batting, with a touch of panache.

Rahane's innings ended when he drove Imran Tahir in the air to cover, the leg spinner's first wicket in his tenth over. Moments before lunch, he dumped Tahir for six over long-on to get to his fifty, but did not last long after the interval as Abbott plucked out the last two wickets to become the first overseas fast bowler since Courtney Walsh in 1987 to claim a five-for at the Kotla.