The Hitavada - - SPORTS -

IN­DIA ef­fected a dra­matic turn­around by tak­ing three wick­ets for five runs in the last hour to re­duce South Africa to 269 for six at stumps on the open­ing day of the sec­ond Test here on Satur­day.

Off-spin­ner Ravichan­dran Ash­win snared three cru­cial wick­ets as the vis­i­tors fought back af­ter the duo of Hashim Amla (82) and Ai­den Markram (94) bat­ted res­o­lutely.


At the end of day’s play, cap­tain Faf du Plessis was un­beaten on 24 runs (77 balls, 3 fours) while Ke­shav Ma­haraj was bat­ting on 10. On a day when the In­dian pac­ers failed to make much of a dent on an easy-paced wicket, Aswhin (3/90) emerged as the most suc­cess­ful bowler as he dis­missed Markram (94), Dean El­gar (31) and Quin­ton de Kock (0).

The hosts were go­ing strong with Amla (82) an­chor­ing the Proteas in­nings af­ter Markram, play­ing on his home ground, missed out on a well-de­served cen­tury by a whisker.

How­ever, two run-outs and a wicket by Ash­win within 13 balls saw South Africa slump from 246/3 to 251/6 as In­dia sought to wrest con­trol of the match while some­what mask­ing a cou­ple of ques­tion­able se­lec­tions in the play­ing XI.

Post tea, Amla and AB de Vil­liers (20) took their third-wicket part­ner­ship to 51 runs. South Africa crossed 200 in the 64th over, but not be­fore los­ing de Vil­liers as he played on off Ishant Sharma (132), who got just re­ward for his toil­ing spells. Amla then put on 47 runs with du Plessis, and in do­ing so, scored his 36th Test half­cen­tury off 99 balls. It looked to be a dom­i­nant day for the hosts be­fore a mini-col­lapse came by.

First, in the 81st over, Amla was run-out against the run of play, get­ting mixed up with du Plessis as he set off for a sin­gle but Hardik Pandya (0-37) found the tar­get on the non-striker’s end off his bowl­ing. Two balls later, Ash­win dis­missed Quin­ton de Kock for a golden duck, caught at slip. Ver­non Phi­lan­der (0) was then run-out on the last ball of the 83rd over as he set off for a run even as du Plessis called no from the non-striker’s end.

In­dia took the new ball in the 87th over, but South Africa man­aged to avoid any fur­ther dam­age. Ear­lier, Ai­den Markram scored 94 runs as South Africa reached 182/2 at tea. The opener faced 150 balls and hit 15 fours.

Post lunch, Markram and Dean El­gar (31) took their open­ing stand to 85 runs. Ash­win got the break­through for In­dia early in the ses­sion, al­beit it was a lucky dis­missal.

The shot from El­gar hit Mu­rali Vi­jay in the mid-riff and lodged there, with the fielder act­ing quickly enough to catch it.

In­dia then at­tacked Amla with short stuff as also at­tempt­ing to lure him out­side the off-stump. Jasprit Bum­rah (0-57) was unim­pres­sive in this spell, un­able to find the right line to at­tack the bats­men. Shami (0-46) was hay­wire too, and In­dia had to re­call Ishant and Ash­win back into the at­tack. Mean­while, Amla and Markram added 63 runs for the sec­ond wicket.

Markram’s wicket came against the run of play. He asked for DRS re­view and was a tad un­lucky as the edge was doubt­ful. But there wasn’t suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to over­turn the on-field um­pire’s de­ci­sion. South Africa had crossed 100 in the 36th over, and their 150 came up in the 47th. Amla, bat­ting

on 30 then, was lucky to sur­vive as Parthiv Pa­tel dropped him off Ishant in the 51st over, the ball go­ing down leg side af­ter the bats­man edged it.

In the morn­ing, South Africa had reached 78 for no loss at

lunch mak­ing first use of an easy day one pitch.

El­gar and Markram had started watch­fully against the new-ball pair­ing of Bum­rah and Shami, the lat­ter con­ced­ing 23 runs off his four overs.


R Ash­win (L) cel­e­brates with team-mates af­ter the dis­missal of South Africa’s Ai­den Markram on the first day of their sec­ond Test at Centurion Park in Pre­to­ria, South Africa.

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