Wednesday, 17 January, 2018

2nd Test: Proteas stumble after good start

Sandra Phillips | 13 January, 2018, 23:50

Ravi Ashwin (3/90), however richly deserved the three wickets, but more importantly it was two runouts in the last session that put South Africa on the mat.

"I like to think I have kept us in the game. Yeah look, this pitch will again test us to play our best cricket and that is something that we are looking forward to". So might as well be ready when I get an opportunity. The pitch changed, and the 31-year-old Ashwin has learned to jump at any chance after losing his place the last time he was in South Africa.

Ashwin had been subject to a lot of criticism in the past on account of his overseas record. Perhaps Kohli should stick to the left-right opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay but Ajinkya Rahane definitely needs to be drafted ahead of Rohit Sharma.

"It was a reality check in terms of not being able to win a test match for the country on day five when all things were actually set up for a spinner", he said of the Wanderers test.

"I am not made that way at least".

Ashwin said he worked on his bowling and hoped to emerge as a better bowler after this series.

"I used my palm more when I bowl the flipper, etc". "What I got from the groundsman was that it was burnt from the heat".

Additionally, he credited the county stint with Worcestershire for aiding him in this process.

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South Africa had crossed 50 in the 21st over. "And then when we walked into the ground yesterday, it was white in colour and the grass was coming off", Ashwin said.

"We would have liked not to have lost those clump of wickets at the end".

South Africa were comfortably placed at 246/3 at one stage.

Morne Morkel took 5/20 in the first innings as India were skittled for 136, before a double-hundred from Jacques Kallis and centuries for Hashim Amla and De Villiers saw South Africa to 620/4 declared. Their attitude of dominating the bowlers with a flurry of strokes will not work. It will take a big improvement from their fast bowlers if that is the case.

"Those wickets in the last session are valid incentive for us going into the Day 2. Even if we are playing six batsmen, you can't afford to go out there and play loose shots", he said. You may not get rank turners in South Africa, but if the wicket is not rock hard, then a spinner has a role.

Cruising at 246/3, the Proteas then wobbled with two suicidal runouts plaguing what had been an impressive day at the office up until then.

"Within my mind, this was probably one of the relaxed days of my cricket career". But his run-out proved to the turning point of the day, as three wickets fell in 14 balls. "Try and deliver from different positions in the crease, and I was really enjoying it", he added.

It was an unnecessary dismissal from a South African perspective and it also sparked the late Proteas wobble, because in the very next over Ashwin had Quinton de Kock caught by Virat Kohli for a first ball duck. I like to believe I was just dogged enough.

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