Mumbai batsman finds form with unbeaten 89 to help India stabilise after SA's off-spinner Dane Piedt causes a mid-innings collapse
New Delhi: Coming into the fourth Test at Feroz Shah Kotla, Ajinkya Rahane had scores of 15, 2, 13 and 9 in the series against South Africa. Showing good temperament, he held India together on Day One, remaining unbeaten at stumps on 89 — the highest individual score in the series. At the end of day's play, India finished on 231 for seven — the highest team score in the Tests. When compared to the previous Tests, this was a better day for batsmen.
Murali Vijay. Pic/ PTI
India got off to a sedate start with the top three showing caution. They were in danger of a collapse at 66 for three, when Rahane walked in to join skipper Virat Kohli. Their 70-run stand was fluent and eased the nerves in the Indian camp.
There was a stutter in the middle again as Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha fell in quick succession. Through that, Rahane held firm. In an action-packed afternoon session, India lost five wickets for 79 runs.
India's batting coach Sanjay Bangar said that Rahane was hurrying into his shots in the previous Tests and has managed to make an adjustment. "This may sound very clichéd — that's key to batsmanship in (the) longer format where you need to give initial time to the bowlers — get used to the pace of the wicket and this was a classic example of how you could do it," Bangar explained.
Ravindra Jadeja chipped in with 24 to help Rahane take India towards 200. Ravichandran Ashwin was unbeaten on six with Rahane when bad light forced an early end to the day's play. "If we could bat one more session, it will be a very good effort," Bangar said looking ahead to Day Two.
Dane Piedt watched from the sidelines as the spinners dictated terms through the series. Playing a Test after nearly 16 months, he made the opportunity count with a four-wicket haul, accounting for Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Kohli and Rohit. At the other end, seamer Kyle Abbott chipped in with three wickets.
Day Two presents Piedt with an opportunity to take a fifer. "The sun comes up again tomorrow — we will compete and try to get the three wickets," he said.
India: 231/7 in 84 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 89 batting, Virat Kohli 44, Dane Piedt 4/101, Kyle Abott 3/23).