Rishabh Pant scored a combative unbeaten 100 to help India set a 212-run target for South Africa in the series-deciding third Test, here on Thursday.

Struggling Cheteshwar Pujara (9) and Ajinkya Rahane (1) failed yet again while Virat Kohli (29 off 143 balls) did his best to stay at the crease as long as possible before Ngidi dismissed the skipper.

Rishabh Pant scored one of his finest hundreds in most adverse of circumstance but another shoddy batting show left India with only 211 runs to defend on the third day of the third and final cricket Test against South Africa, here Thursday.

Pant’s (100 not out off 139 balls) fourth Test hundred constituted for more than 50 percent of India’s second innings total of 198 with Virat Kohli’s 29 off 143 balls being the second highest individual score.

The umpires called for tea break at the fall of final Indian wicket in the extended second session.

This was the first Test match in 145-year-history where all 20 batters of one team were caught.

The day belonged to Pant as he scored a hundred which is as good as one would ever see and what stood out was his shot selection, which was immaculate.

He didn’t do anything that was ‘un-Pant’ like as there was a rasping square cut off a rising one from Kagiso Rabada (3/53). There was the audacious down the track cover drive off Duanne Olivier and that six over long-on off Keshav Maharaj came just an over before lunch.

These are all shots that one associates with the dashing keeper-batter but what was exemplary was his use of discretion as to what kind of deliveries he would attack.

In between defending the good balls, he drove Maharaj out of the attack with a one-handed slog sweep and a six over long-off. When Olivier dug one short at his pace, it was pulled for six as he hit six fours and four sixes in all.

Skipper Virat Kohli’s presence during a 94-run stand definitely helped that he had that guiding light in the middle as he went about his job.

Once Pant had unsettled the line and length of the Proteas pace unit, Dean Elgar opened the field allowing them to rotate the strike but once Kohli perished outside the off-stump, it was only Pant who had to take the burden.

India 1st Innings: 223 all out
South Africa 1st Innings: 210 all out
India 2nd Innings: Overnight 57/2 KL Rahul c Markram b Marco Jansen 10 Mayank Agarwal c Elgar b Rabada 7 Cheteshwar Pujara c Keegan Petersen b Marco Jansen 9 Virat Kohli c Markram b Lungi Ngidi 29 Ajinkya Rahane c Elgar b Rabada 1 Rishabh Pant not out 100 Ravichandran Ashwin c Marco Jansen b Lungi Ngidi 7 Shardul Thakurc Verreynne b Lungi Ngidi 5 Umesh Yadavc Verreynne b Rabada 0 Mohammed Shami c van der Dussen b Marco Jansen 0 Jasprit Bumrah c Bavuma b Marco Jansen 2 Extras: (B-8, LB-9, W-2, NB- 9) 28 Total: (all out in 67.3 overs) 198 Fall of wickets: 1-20, 2-24, 3-57, 4-58, 5-152, 6-162, 7-170, 8-180, 9-189, 10-198.
Bowlers: Kagiso Rabada 17-5-53-3, Duanne Olivier 10-1-38-0, Marco Jansen 19.3-6-36-4 , Lungi Ngidi 14-5-21-3, Keshav Maharaj 7-1-33-0. 

The other highlight was his batting with the tail, taking a single off either the fourth or fifth delivery shielding the Number 9, 10 and 11 as much as possible.

If Pant’s learning from his mistake was one good aspect, same can’t be said about Cheteshwar Pujara (9) and Ajinkya Rahane (1) as they have now put their careers in jeopardy.

Pujara was again cramped for room on the leg side and the tickle off the gloves was brilliantly taken by Keegan Petersen at leg slip, diving to his right and snapping it up inches ahead of the ground.

In case of Rahane, Rabada bowled a terrific one which kicked from length and took his gloves and Dean Elgar at first slip caught it after keeper Kyle Verreynne had managed to tip it up with his gloves.

Seven Indian batters failed to get into double figures.