India v South Africa, 2nd Test: Kohli, Vijay steady India after SA get to 335
India v South Africa, 2nd Test: Kohli, Vijay steady India after SA get to 335After a solitary over from left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj before lunch, India's openers promised to lay down the best start of the series but a scoreline of 28 without loss became 28/2 in the space of two deliveries.TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Jan 14, 2018, 18:34 IST
- A poor shot from KL Rahul undid a watchful opening stand in the tenth over.
- Pujara was run out for a first ball duck.
- 50-run stand was up between Vijay and Kohli off 101 balls.
After a solitary over from left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj before lunch, India's openers promised to lay down the best start of the series but a scoreline of 28 without loss became 28/2 in the space of two deliveries. A poor shot from KL Rahul undid a watchful opening stand in the tenth over, when a leaden-footed drive bobbed back to Morne Morkel who took the offer. Cheteshwar Pujara worked the next ball towards mid-on and harried off for a single, only to be run out by the debutant Lungi Ngidi.
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After that moment of madness, India were steadied by the cautious head of Vijay, batting on 31 from 95 balls at the tea interval, and Kohli, who was purring on 39 from 51.
Three of Kohli's five boundaries came off Kagiso Rabada, and each was pretty: a front-foot drive into the covers, a flick wide of square leg and a steer past gully. The other two came off consecutive deliveries from Morkel, one placed between mid-on and the stumps and the other past extra-cover. Vijay had four boundaries to his name, none of them as flowing as Kohli's, but that will matter to nobody because India's innings has found resonance.
Earlier, R Ashwin was denied a richly deserved first five-wicket haul away from Asia and the Caribbean on account of three dropped catches off his bowling in the morning session. The result was that South Africa were allowed generously to progress from 269/6 to 335, with Faf du Plessis adding 42 for the eighth wicket and reac hing a vital half-century.
India began the morning well with Mohammed Shami dislodging the overnight Keshav Maharaj for his 100th Test wicket - in his 29th Test - but for the second day running, India were guilty of being sloppy in the field. Ashwin had three chances put down off his bowling during a fine morning spell, with Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel and a combination of Shami and Hardik Pandya the offenders.
Ashwin first looked on in frustration as catches went down off successive deliveries, both time giving Rabada chances. First, a thick outside edge flew to the right of Kohli at slip, but he did not grasp it. Next ball, Rabada charged out and got a booming edge that ballooned up towards point, where Pandya and Shami failed to call for the catch, and the result was a glaring gaffe. Pandya was the one who got the ball, but as Shami ran across him, out it slipped. Ashwin could do nothing but bring a hand to his forehead.
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Through the drama, du Plessis continued to find the gaps. Shami was cracked between cover and point with authority, Pandya squeezed off an outer edge backward of point. Both times, the result was four. A flick off the pads for two raised a battling half-century, which was received with hearty applause from the Centurion crowd. With the surface not assisting shots down the ground or into the covers, du Plessis smartly used his crease to manufacture runs into the leg side and square on the off side.
Then came a third drop. On 54, du Plessis got a tickle on a straighter one from Ashwin, but the chance was put down by Parthiv.
Moments later, as Ishant Sharma was brought on for the second time, a top edge from Rabada was well taken by a diving Pandya at deep midwicket. Immediately, du Plessis switched gears, charging Ashwin and putting him away for four over midwicket. That approach also proved the end of a fighting innings, for a hard-handed drive against Ishant saw du Plessis miss the ball entirely. Ishant's double-strike eased the pain for India, and Ashwin did not take long to claim his fourth wicket, but India will rue not dismissing South Africa for under 300.
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