Proteas batsmen need to keep time with AB
Ashwin had a great laugh reminding Elgar that he isn’t in Joburg
DEAN ELGAR already knows that his slog-sweep straight after yesterday morning’s drinks break was ill-judged. What he wouldn’t have known is that YouTube helped in his demise, on a day that ended with the Proteas 142 runs behind India, who still have eight secondinnings wickets in hand.
India’s best bowler, Ravichandran Ashwin, has a reputation for being just a little bit on the cocky side. You can’t call a man with five wickets in the bag – and a wearing pitch to work with in the second dig – arrogant, but Ashwin wouldn’t care less if you did anyway.
The lanky tweaker, whose 5/51 saw South Africa bowled out for 184, was in full-on, chest thumping mode last night, as he looked back on a strong showing from the hosts at the IS Bindra Stadium.
“I had a great time watching Dean Elgar batting on YouTube (on Thursday), and I knew that shot was coming,” Ashwin said. As he ran past Elgar, India’s ace had a short speech prepared: “I told him that this wasn’t Joburg. I knew he was going to play that shot.”
The “Joburg” reference was telling the South African opener that he was now in Ashwin’s house, a long way from home. In the context of the match, it was a horrible shot, especially after Elgar ( 37) and captain Hashim Amla (43) had added 76 for the third wicket, looking in control.
The pitch, which had been the subject of heated discussion and derision the night before, played fairly well. So while Elgar may argue that the shot was on, it allowed India to wrestle back control of a situation that they were starting to get worried about.
“I’ve seen Dean go aerial a lot of times, and successfully,” Proteas spin coach Claude Henderson said. “He plays the shot well and sometimes going aerial is not a bad option, especially when the field is up.”
But it was the much-fancied “inand-out field” with equal parts protection and predation that faced Elgar. He knew he was a goner straight away, and bowed his head in shame. At the other end, Amla grafted to 43, but was deceived in the flight by Ashwin and stumped off the chest of Wriddhiman Saha.
Aside from Elgar, Amla and De Villiers, none of South Africa’s batsmen got to double figures, some playing harvest heaves before they had even laid a seed of graft into the Mohali soil.
Mohali saw two versions of De Villiers yesterday. The first man lasted 21 balls, gathered seven runs – and almost as many appeals for leg-before – as he scratched and poked at the fizzing ball.
By the time he fell for 63, his second dig had realised 56 off 62 balls, and put India on the back foot. The Proteas will need him to keep bat- ting in this authoritative vein, and the rest of the batsmen to follow suit.
“It won’t get easier. Honestly, it is exciting for me to see spin take so many wickets, but our batsmen will obviously say it’s not a good wicket,” Henderson said. “If we have to chase anything beyond 300, then it becomes really difficult, because the bigger the score, the more catchers you can carry (around the bat).
“The one good thing is that there is a lot of time left in the game. Our pace bowlers are capable of amazing things, so I wouldn’t go easy if I was India.”
Those who know better will have already admonished themselves, but those new to all this will have to learn – in a hurry – that time, more than anything else is key in India.
But it’s now on India’s watch. The manner in which Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay went about their second, crucial alliance in this match, showed that this pitch is not all demons and despair.
Sure they are not facing the peerless Ashwin, who boasted that he could have had De Villiers at anytime, but they still played everything on its merits. The Proteas also missed their bowling talisman, Dale Steyn, who has a groin strain that looks likely to prevent him from bowling again in the match.
Vernon Philander, leading the attack, helped Shikhar Dhawan complete a miserable pair, before Pujara and Vijay added 86.
It took a moment of brilliance from Steyn’s super- sub, Temba Bavuma, who leapt full length at short-leg, to snare a starled Vijay (47) off Imran Tahir.
HELLO AND GOODBYE: Wriddhiman Saha stumps Proteas captain Hashim Amla for 43 at the IS Bindra Stadium yesterday. India resumed play today on 125/2.