IND vs SA Second Test: India keep South Africa down to 269 for 6
Three wickets in the final session boost Kohli & Co's hopes to bounce back after half centuries from Markram and Amla
India skipper Virat Kohli celebrates after taking a catch at slips to dismiss SA batsman Quinton de Kock on Day One of the second Test at Centurion on Saturday. Pic/AP/PTI
It was that man Hardik Pandya again. He provided the inspiration while it was R Ashwin's perspiration that kept the visitors in the game on a strange first day's play at SuperSport Park on Saturday. All claims of a rock-hard surface seemed vastly exaggerated as a brown pitch afforded spin, even if slowly, on first day that ended with India picking up six wickets and South Africa getting only 269 on the board.
SA batsman Hashim Amla is run out by Hardik Pandya on Saturday. Pic/AFP
India's love affair with tinkering with the playing eleven continued as they dropped Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the best bowler in Cape Town, and also the man who lasted more deliveries at the crease (127) than anyone save AB de Villiers. Bhuvneshwar's replacement, Ishant Sharma, was probing early on, beating the bat and slanting the ball efficiently across the left-handed Dean Elgar. But, Aiden Markram was fluent, and Elgar refused to give his wicket away, the pair adding 85 for the first wicket.
Elgar was the first to fall, coming down the crease and hitting uppishly to silly point, the ball striking Murali Vijay in the mid-riff, with the fielder somehow clutching onto the ball. Ashwin struck again when Markram (94), desperately unlucky to miss out on a century, nicked off to the 'keeper Parthiv Patel while brushing pad with his bat. The on-field decision was out, and when reviewed, technology showed that there was a nick even as bat struck pad.
AB de Villiers, not at all his fluent self on a pitch that was sluggish and occasionally two-paced, dragged a ball from Ishant back onto his stumps and then a brace of run outs allowed India to claw back into the game. Hashim Amla, who had been dropped by Parthiv Patel on 30, playing down the leg side, made India pay, getting to 82. He certainly seemed to have set his stall out for a big one, and it was a hesitation in setting off for a single that caused his downfall.
Pandya, fielding the ball on the leg side in his follow through, athletically flung down the stumps at the bowler's end in one action, sending Amla on his way. Vernon Philander then gifted his wicket away, wandering down the pitch while Faf du Plessis called "No" and was comfortably run out. Keeping South Africa down to 269 for 6, India will believe that they got the job done on the first day, although they will know that there is plenty of hard work left on this surface.