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Cricket | India tour of South Africa 2017/18

Virat Kohli © Reuters Images

Kohli holds India together

South Africa tightened the screws on India in the blazing heat of the second day of the second test at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday, but Virat Kohli was magnificent in his staunch resistance of anything the bowlers sent his way, scoring an unbeaten 85 in India’s 183 for 5.

Day 2 Interactive coverage

It was a great day of test cricket in front of packed stands, the kind where neither team runs away with the game and both run-scoring and wicket-taking don’t come easy.

After all the hard work, India still trailed by 152 runs.

Had it not been for Kohli’s innings, India would have found themselves in deep trouble once more. Early on, Kohli played a little more than he needed to, chasing deliveries outside the off stump.

But, such is his quality that, in the absence of lateral movement, he took his chances and got away with it.

When the ball was too full Kohli was majestic driving back down the ground, and his cover drives were a treat for cricket aficionados in the crowd.

In all, Kohli struck eight boundaries in his stay at the crease, and when the sun set, he could rightly be proud of his effort.

It was not as though he was not troubled, surviving close shouts for lbw against Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, but you can’t grudge a batsman slices of luck against this quality of bowling.

Hardik Pandya, who had joined Kohli at the crease as the shadows lengthened, looked positive and yet restrained and was unbeaten on 11 when stumps were drawn. You can be sure he will look to be more aggressive when the third day’s play starts.


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The Indian innings began in much more confident fashion, in comparison to the first test, Lokesh Rahul and Murali Vijay bringing a sense of calm to proceedings. Both batsmen were prepared to leave the good ball alone while waiting to cash in on anything that was too full or two short.

After Keshav Maharaj bowled the lone over before the lunch break, normal service resumed, Morne Morkel probing away outside off stump and Vernon Philander trying to build pressure despite the lack of movement off the pitch that made him deadly at Newlands.

Rahul, who had played one unusually aggressive shot, carted Morkel over mid-off, modifying the cut shot when the ball hurried onto him.

Rahul’s attempt to work a ball to the on side, another that skidded through at pace, however, was less successful, the leading edge lobbing back down the pitch.

Morkel did brilliantly to tumble down in his follow-through, quickly getting down to accept the return catch.


Cheteshwar Pujara worked the first ball he played to mid-on and set off for a single but Ngidi, the debutant, was on the ball in a flash and threw the stumps down even though he had only one stump to aim at.

Pujara, who had to put in the dive, was laying on the ground for an eternity knowing full well that he was short of his crease by at least a couple of metres.

Gone for a duck having faced only one ball, Pujara trudged slowly back to the dressing-room.

From there on it was the Kohli show all the way for India.

Vijay, who had settled into a good rhythm, left the ball with discipline, forcing the bowlers to straighten their lines and come to him so he could nudge and nurdle the ball for ones and twos.

In the second session, a much awaited moment came, Ngidi being given the ball at the Hennops River end and he was spot on. Working his pace up gradually, Ngidi, tall, strong and with a beautiful repeatable action, kept India’s batsmen quiet, going from the mid-130kmh speed to pushing 143kmh. Ngidi’s first spell read 4-2-6-0 and though he had not picked up a wicket, it was a promising start to his test career.

It was against the run of play that Vijay (46) fell, cutting a ball from Maharaj that was too full for the shot, edging to the wicketkeeper. Rohit Sharma, of whom much has been expected for far too long, appeared leaden-footed at the crease.

While he had enough time to keep the good balls out, he did not appear to be in the mood to show the positive intent that Kohli had demanded of his team.

Failing to take the ones and twos, Rohit was perfectly set up by Rabada who bowled a series of out swingers before getting one quick ball to bend back in and trap the batsman in front of the stumps. All Rohit managed was 11.

Parthiv Patel’s nervy occupation of the crease lasted 32 balls, and he became Ngidi’s first test scalp, fishing outside the off to edge to the keeper. Fortunately for India, there was no further damage as Kohli and Pandya took the team safely through to stumps.

Earlier in the day South Africa pushed on to 335, one more than the average first-innings score at this ground, helped along by India, who dropped at least three catches. Faf du Plessis held the lower order together with 63 as the tail chipped in with vital runs.

Report Day 1

SOUTH AFRICA: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungisani Ngidi, Morne Morkel

INDIA: Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Parthiv Patel (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma


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