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Newlands, Cave Town!

Updated on: 04 January,2024 07:05 AM IST  |  Cape Town
R Kaushik |

As many as twenty-three wickets fall on opening day of second and final Test as batting orders of both teams sink; brilliant India bowlers led by Siraj (6-15) gun down SA for just 55 in first innings

Newlands, Cave Town!

India’s Mohammed Siraj (left) celebrates the wicket of South Africa’s David Bedingham at Newlands, Cape Town, yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

On another day, Mohammed Siraj would have been the undisputed hero for his stellar nine-over burst of six for 15, but Wednesday wasn’t just another day at Newlands.

As many as 23 wickets tumbled on the first day of the second Test, at the end of which India were ahead on points, but not substantially so on a track where it is impossible to feel ‘in’. South Africa, 62 for three in their second dig, need a further 36 to make India bat again, which, on the evidence of what transpired on Day One, can’t be taken for granted.

South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada (left) is ecstatic as India’s Virat Kohli is caught in the slips on Day One of the second Test at the Western Province venue yesterday. Pic/PTISouth Africa’s Kagiso Rabada (left) is ecstatic as India’s Virat Kohli is caught in the slips on Day One of the second Test at the Western Province venue yesterday. Pic/PTI

Siraj’s sensational spell, aided by excellent catching behind the stumps, consigned South Africa to 55 all out, their lowest total since their readmission to international cricket in 1991, by lunch on the first morning. Siraj reaped the rewards for keeping the ball full enough to catch the edges, and while it might be tempting to apportion huge blame to the pitch, it was far from unplayable even if it favoured faster bowlers more than it ought to have.'

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Six wickets lost for no runs 

Presented with the opportunity to bat their opponents out of the game, India were well on track at 153 for four, skipper Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli leading the way. But in another manic passage of play, the visitors lost their last six wickets without the addition of a run in 11 deliveries—three of them to the initially disappointing Lungi Ngidi, two to Kagiso Rabada—to settle for a 98-run advantage. Massive in the context of the game, but definitely not decisive.

In his final Test innings, Dean Elgar helped Aiden Markram with the rescue act as South Africa batted again, the openers putting on 37, when Mukesh Kumar effected the breakthrough. Preferred to Shardul Thakur and having warmed up with two first-innings wickets, Mukesh forced Elgar to edge to Kohli at first slip, then had Tony de Zorzi caught behind with one that shaped away a tad. When Bumrah drew debutant Tristan Stubbs’ outside edge, India’s spirits were lifted, though they will be aware that on the morrow, they will have to contend with the fluent Markram and the impressive David Bedingham.

Disciplined bowling 

Overnight, though, they will bask in the improved performance of their fast bowlers. Having leaked 408 runs in nearly similar conditions in Centurion, the Siraj-led attack came up with a much better display. 

Cutting out the frills and focusing on the basics—hitting the channels outside off, drawing the batsmen forward and therefore being able to catch the edges—they were on point. South Africa’s top order was totally at sea, which will also explain India’s late collapse against bowlers taller and more used to the conditions.

Mukesh was a silent hero in both innings and Bumrah was tidy on a quickish surface where the bounce was slightly inconsistent, but not alarmingly so even if 23 
wickets in 73.1 overs might suggest otherwise.

Brief scores
South Africa 55 & 62-3 (A Markram 36; M Kumar 2-25) trail India 153 all out (V Kohli 46; L Ngidi 3-30, K Rabada 3-38, N Burger 3-42) by 36 runs

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