On final day, an examination: India will have to survive on 5th day Durban track

Cheteshwar PujaraCheteshwar Pujara takes evasive action against a bouncer on the fourth day of their cricket Test against South Africa at Kingsmead (AP)

Shikhar Dhawan had every reason to feel aggrieved, if not shocked. In his head, the left-handed opener had after all done nothing wrong. He had stepped down to a Robin Peterson delivery, which was given air, and whipped it with all his might over mid-wicket. Faf du Plessis had no business coming in its way. Not in the fashion he did anyway, his feet in the air, body convoluted, and the right hand where the left should have been.

Eventually he plucked the ball from thin air like he would an apple from a tree. That is before landing hard but with the ball crucially in his grasp. While du Plessis was engulfed by his equally shocked teammates, Dhawan just stood there in disbelief.

Trevor Penney, India's fielding coach, perhaps described the du Plessis special the best when he said, "It looked like he had been shot." That's how quickly it all happened-in the blink of an eye. The arduous work that Dhawan had put in for 120 minutes had just been stolen away from him in a freak moment.

In those two hours, Dhawan had waded through the rough sea leaden with obstacles and come away unscathed. Battered and bruised but still fighting and kicking. And yet, he had perished in shallow waters with the shore within reach.

Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander had tested every intricate aspect of his technique. On many occasions the left-handed opener had looked out of sorts and not competent enough to combat the enquiry. But still he had survived. Survived long enough, 86 deliveries in fact, of some of the most testing new-ball bowling you'll ever see. Now, the spinners were on. The light was fading quickly. It seemed only a matter of time before the umpires bring the day's play to a close. And courtesy du Plessis's outstretched right-hand, Dhawan was on his way for probably the most difficult 19 runs he's scored in Test cricket so far.

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