Friday, 19 January, 2018

South Africa ease to 78/0 at lunch on flat pitch

India`s Virat Kohli plays a shot in the first innings of second test match against South Africa at the Centurion Stadium Pretoria South Africa on 14 January 2018. Reuters Proteas search for perfect balance
Shannon Reynolds | 14 January, 2018, 14:19

India have won just two Test matches on South African soil in 25 years of touring - in 2006-07 and 2010-11.

Credit has to go to Hardik Pandya for changing direction in his follow-through, fielding a ball nearly at square leg, turning around and going for and achieving a direct hit at the end that the batsman - Hashim Amla, slower of the two at that time - didn't expect action.

Dwelling on the pitch, he said, "The new ball isn't doing a lot actually and the pitch is actually flattening out and spin is going out of the surface a lot more".

Philander's run out in the next over came as he set off for a run as the ball looped into the air and dropped between three India fielders.

Meanwhile, du Plessis took South Africa past 300 with a boundary off Ashwin and soon after brought up his half-century with a couple off Pandya.

India have made three changes from the first test, one enforced, as opener Lokesh Rahul, wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel and seamer Ishant Sharma replaced Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha and Bhuvneshwar Kumar respectively.

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Du Plessis held his team together until stumps and was 24 not out. It has reached 14/0 in 5 overs, 321 behind South Africa.

The story of Newlands is now forgotten as attention turns sharply to SuperSport Park for the second Test cricket between South Africa's Proteas and India starting today.

Whichever way South Africa decide to go in their set-up, their fast bowlers will remain their major asset as they look to wrap up the series.

Earlier in the day, the Indian team management surprised one and all with some inexplicable changes. "I think day two and three will be a very good batting day". My first-class teammates would advice that I have to develop a lot of patience, and hearing those things from them was definitely a reality check. Aiden Markram was unlucky to be dismissed on 94, while Hashim Amla was run out for 82, courtesy a brilliant direct hit from Hardik Pandya.

"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 set up for a spinner", said Ashwin, who went wicketless in 36 overs that day. Youngster Lungi Ngidi might get his first opportunity on home-soil. Ashwin picked up opener Dean Elgar for 31 for the first breakthrough.

A diving Parthiv was unable to hold on down the leg side after Amla edged a delivery from Ishant, who was rewarded for his endeavour by removing De Villiers, the former skipper chopping on for 20 after tea. Chasing 458, South Africa had its back against the wall and had to survive the last day on a deteriorating pitch at the Wanderers. He has four centuries and a double-century at Centurion and was on course to add to that when du Plessis called him through for a quick single and Pandya pounced brilliantly.

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