South Africa will be happier amongst the two sides especially after coming out on top on Day Two of the second Test match against India at Centurion.
India are reeling at 183/5 at the stumps on the 2nd day at the SuperSport Park. Virat Kohli is leading the charge with a fightback for India after scoring an unbeaten 85 runs. Alongside him is Hardik Pandya (11*) as India will hope to get close to the Proteas total of 336 runs at the least on Monday.
There were two vital moments that changed the game and made India pay. 1) The back to back catch miss of Kagiso Rabada 2) Cheteshwar Pujara’s silly run-out a ball after KL Rahul’s dismissal.
Kohli will hope the lower-order hangs in along with him as he is the side’s best bet to carry them forward. Kohli is 15 runs short of a magnificent Test ton which would also be the first by any player in this series. The Centurion pitch has seemed to have eased out but India still have a mountain to climb on Day Three. India trail the hosts by a 152-run margin and it will take some Herculean effort from here on to make something out of this match.
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It will be difficult for Kohli to see the others give their wickets away in vital moments especially when he would have thought two wickets by end of stumps would be a good day’s of work. He shared a 79-run stand with Murali Vijay for the third wicket. That was the only highlight of India’s partnership as the rest of the batsmen flopped yet again.
Rahul replaced Shikhar Dhawan atop but like the southpaw, he too could not dish out an innings of character holding straight back to Morne Morkel for 10. There was hope for Pujara this time to hang in on there and play a substantial innings. But he departed in the next ball after a silly run-out. Pujara’s golden duck continued his listless time overseas as South Africa gained he initiative for the 2nd time during the day.
The No. 3 batsman worked the ball towards mid-on and harried off for a single, only to be run out by the debutant Lungi Ngidi.
Kohli’s positive approach helped him and and Vijay at the crease as the duo resisted the attack and batted on well. The Indian skipper looked so easy on the ball smacking Rabada for three fours before tea. All three were versatile in their nature. A front-foot drive into the covers, a flick wide of square leg and a steer past gully. He dispatched Morkel too for two fours and it looked like India will continue the same post the break.
Vijay looked good too batting sensibly and left the deliveries outside the off stump safely. He looked assured from the start, but then post tea the scenario changed altogether. Vijay’s lapse of concentration did him in as he erred in judgement of the length and offered a thick edge to Quinton de Kock off Keshav Maharaj on 46. Rohit Sharma followed next managing a meagre 10 runs as his difficulties in Tests continued.
Parthiv Patel, who had a poor day on the field, managed just 19 runs fending off an edge against the bowling off Ngidi, who deserved a wicket after some magnificent spell of fast bowling. Kohli hung on in the middle and is nearing his 23rd Test ton.
Earlier, India allowed the hosts to climb to a decent 335 runs from 269/6. South Africa may have lost all four wickets in the first session, but the 66 runs added gave them the ideal start. India got Maharaj out early with Shami getting the scalp after bowling some tight spells and not allowing the Proteas to breathe easy. But then the problems creeped in.
STAT ATTACK: Shami picked his 100th Test wicket, becoming the third fastest Indian pacer (29 Tests) to get there behind Kapil Dev and Irfan Pathan at 25 & 28 respectively
Ashwin was left a sorry figure as catches went down off successive deliveries, both time giving Rabada lifeline. Kohli missed a regulation slip catch at slips and in the next ball, he was dropped at point by Pandya after there was a mix-up with Mohammed Shami.
Rabada went on to add a 48-run stand with Faf du Plessis, who smashed a gruelling fifty. He too would have got out earlier, but Patel’s butter-fingers gave him the cushion and it was again Ashwin in the receiving end. Ishant finished with 3/46 off 22 overs as Ashwin ended up with 4/113.