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Elgar-du Plessis stand leads South Africa's Vizag fightback

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(Reuters) – Opener Dean Elgar struck a gutsy unbeaten half-century and combined with captain Faf du Plessis to lead South Africa’s fightback against India’s massive first innings total on the third day of the opening test at Visakhapatnam on Friday.

Elgar remained unbeaten on 76 after completing his 14th fifty in tests with du Plessis 48 not out as South Africa reached 153 for four at lunch, still 349 runs behind the hosts’ first innings score of 502 for seven declared.

The pair have already added 90 for their burgeoning fifth-wicket stand, brightening the touring side’s hopes of avoiding the follow-on mark in the opener of the three-test series.

After South Africa resumed on a precarious 39-3, India would have expected their spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to inflict quick damages but their only success in the session came from experienced fast bowler Ishant Sharma.

Temba Bavuma was out leg before for 18 to the lanky paceman who got the delivery to curl back in viciously and hit the batsman’s pad.

Elgar, who was unbeaten on 27 overnight, displayed nimble footwork against the spinners and was not afraid to take the aerial route to score runs as he hit eight fours and three sixes.

The left-handed batsman had a lucky escape when wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, making a comeback to the Indian side after an injury-induced lengthy absence, failed to hold on to a catch on 74 off Jadeja.

Du Plessis has looked fluent at the crease and used the sweep shot well to neutralise the spinners, hitting seven fours and a six in his innings.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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