Centurion, Jan 13: India staged a stellar comeback, thanks to some disciplined bowling effort by R Ashwin and lively fielding in the final session, and keep themselves in the game at the end the first day's play here on Saturday (January 13).
India off-spinner Ashwin struck thrice before hosts South Africa reached 269/6 at stumps on the opening day of the second Test. Skipper Faf du Plessis (24*) and Keshav Maharaj (10*) were present at the crease at the end of day's play.
On a day when the Indian pacers failed to make much of a dent on an easy-paced wicket, Aswhin (3/90) emerged as the most successful bowler as he dismissed Aiden Markram (94), Dean Elgar (31) and Quinton de Kock (0).
Good comeback from India in the last session.Brillant from Ashwin.Great presence of mind from Hardik to remove the dangerous looking Amla.Remove the tail in the morning and look to post a big total in 1st innings. Good luck India 🇮🇳 SAvIND— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) January 13, 2018
However, two run-outs and a wicket by Ashwin within 13 balls saw the hosts slump from 246/3 to 251/6 as India sought to wrest control of the match while somewhat masking a couple of questionable selections in the playing XI.
In his captaincy tenure yet, Kohli's never played some combo. Rahul in for Dhawan, Parthiv for Saha (injured apparently) & Bhuvi makes way for Ishant because of extra bounce at Centurion. No place for Rahane. Interesting changes to say the least. What do you make of them?— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) January 13, 2018
Markram (94) and Hashim Amal (82) were the top scorers for the Proteas as they grilled Indian bowlers. AB de Villiers was the third South African wicket to perish for 20 after he was played-on by Ishant Sharma. De Villiers departed after another fifty-plus partnership with Amla.
Skipper Faf du Plessis and Amla recovered the hosts after De Villiers' dismissal for 199. But Amla suffered a shock exit after he was run out by Hardik Pandya for 82 when the right-handed batsman as stealing a single off his own delivery.
Stellar comeback. Superb from Ashwin. And that moment of brilliance from Pandya. Remove the tail on the morrow...first hour. #SAvIND— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) January 13, 2018
Quinton de Kock was the new-man-in but he was dismissed for a golden duck two balls later. He was caught in the slip cordon by Virat Kohli as he edged Ashwin. Philander was the sixth African wicket to perish as he too was run out without scoring. It was a misunderstanding that cost Philander his wicket.
Indian pacers looked ineffective on a pitch as they hardly managed to trouble the Proteas. Mohammad Shami had a forgettable outing as he struggled to trouble them.
Earlier, Markram (94), playing on his home ground, missed a well-deserved century by a whisker after he was caught behind off Ashwin (2-53). Overall, he faced 150 balls and hit 15 fours.
India bagged two wickets in the post-lunch session while leaked 104 runs to bring themselves back in the game. Resuming at 78/0, Markram and Dean Elgar (31) took their opening stand to 85 runs before Ashwin got the first breakthrough for India early in the second session.
The shot from Elgar hit Murali Vijay in the mid-riff and lodged there, with the fielder acting quickly enough to catch it.Elgar and Markram had started watchfully against the new-ball pairing of Bumrah and Shami, the latter conceding 23 runs off his four overs.
The new ball bowlers failed to create any chances, and Ishant came on as first-change in the 8th over. He immediately troubled Elgar and continued to do so throughout his first spell. Pandya came on to bowl in the 13th over.
Eventually fielding has got us back into the game. Brilliant work by Pandya to get rid of Amla, which was the turning point. If we can bring wl them out under 320 and bat big, this could be a great opportunity.#SAvIndia— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) January 13, 2018
By the 20th over, when Ashwin was introduced into the attack, India had used up all their frontline bowlers in just over an hour's play. Ashwin too probed Elgar, and in the 24th over, had a caught-behind appeal turned down.
India opted for DRS review but there was no edge. The Proteas had crossed 50 in the 21st over. Meanwhile, Markram reached his second Test half-century off 81 balls, just before the break.
Earlier, South Africa skipper won his second consecutive toss in the series and elected to bat against India. Proteas brought in debutant Lungisani Ngidi in place of injured Dale Steyn from the previous game and that is the only forced change for the Proteas.
Fabulous day's test cricket. Was about adapting and probably there will be a greater need of that tomorrow.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 13, 2018
Already trailing by 0-1, India skipper Virat Kohli made three changes to the side by dropping Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Wriddhiman Saha.
KL Rahul came in place of Dhawan, Parthiv Patel was brought into the side in place of wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha while fit-again Ishant Sharma replaced Bhuvneshwar. Apparently, Saha has a niggle and that's the reason why Parthiv has been brought to the side.