Amaz­ing Ash­win, run-outs put In­dia in con­trol

SA lose six wick­ets

Sport360 - - Front Page - By Staff Re­porter @Sport360 ed­i­to­ Se­hwag tar­gets Kohli

Two run-outs and the bowl­ing of Ravichan­dran Ash­win gave In­dia the edge on the first day of the sec­ond Test against South Africa at Su­perS­port Park.

South Africa fin­ished on 269-6. They had been cruis­ing at 2463 and seemed set for a big to­tal af­ter win­ning the toss and bat­ting on an easy-paced pitch.

Ai­den Markram (94) and Hashim Amla (82) were mainly re­spon­si­ble for get­ting South Africa into a strong po­si­tion de­spite some good bowl­ing by off-spin­ner Ash­win, who took 3-90 in 31 overs.

The day changed dra­mat­i­cally with an out­stand­ing piece of field­ing by Hardik Pandya, who ran out Amla for 82. Two more wick­ets fell in the next 14 balls.

Amla, who looked set for a cen­tury to end a poor run of form which had brought scores of 5, 3 and 4 in his pre­vi­ous three Test in­nings, played a ball from Pandya to the on-side and was called for a sharp sin­gle by South African cap­tain Faf du Plessis.

Amla, on his back foot, was slow to start and Pandya raced to pick up the ball, turned and threw down the stumps at the bowler’s end.

The sec­ond new ball was due but In­dian cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli per­sisted with Ash­win and was re­warded when Quin­ton de Kock edged Ash­win to Kohli at slip to be out first ball.

It got worse for South Africa when Ver­non Phi­lan­der set off for a sui­ci­dal run and found him­self at the same end as Du Plessis to be run out without scor­ing.

Con­trary to ex­pec­ta­tions, there was no as­sis­tance for the fast bowlers and Ash­win car­ried the bowl­ing at­tack, tak­ing two for 53 in an un­changed 17-over first spell be­fore com­ing back to bowl another lengthy spell.

Markram, play­ing in his fifth Test, looked set for a third cen­tury to go with hun­dreds he made against the mod­est op­po­si­tion of Bangladesh and Zim­babwe.

He struck the ball with au­thor­ity, par­tic­u­larly off the back foot, be­fore he tried to guide a ball from Ash­win to­wards third man and was caught be­hind by Parthiv Pa­tel.

Markram made 94 off 150 balls and hit 15 fours.

Markram and a strug­gling Dean El­gar (31) put on 85 for the first wicket be­fore El­gar went down the wicket and was caught by Mu­rali Vi­jay at silly mid-off, check­ing a drive off Ash­win.

Amla made his 82 off 153 balls with 14 fours. He sur­vived a halfchance to Pandya at short mid­wicket off Ash­win on 14 and a div­ing catch to Pa­tel when he glanced Ishant Sharma to the wick­et­keeper’s left with his score on 30, but then played with au­thor­ity.

Pa­tel was play­ing in place of Wrid­dhi­man Saha, who had a ham­string in­jury.

In­dia made two other changes. Lokesh Rahul re­placed Shikhar Dhawan as an open­ing bats­man and fast bowler Ishant Sharma came in for Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar.

South Africa again opted for a four-pronged pace at­tack, pick­ing new cap Lungi Ngidi in place of the in­jured Dale Steyn. Ngidi, 21, played in three Twenty20 in­ter­na­tion­als last sea­son but has played in only nine first-class matches, tak­ing 31 wick­ets at an av­er­age of 20.45.

For­mer opener Viren­der Se­hwag launched a scathing at­tack on Kohli, say­ing the In­dia cap­tain “should drop him­self ” if he fails in the sec­ond Test against South Africa.

In­dia dropped Dhawan, who failed in the first Test fol­low­ing a great run in 2017, and Bhu­vnesh­war, who took six wick­ets in the first Test and scored 38 runs in the low-scor­ing match.

“Watch­ing Vi­rat Kohli ex­clud­ing Shikhar Dhawan for just one Test fail­ure, and Bhu­vnesh­war for no rea­son at all, Kohli should drop him­self in the third Test at Centurion, if he fails to per­form in Centurion,” Se­hwag told In­dia TV.

“Ex­clud­ing Bhu­vnesh­war wasn’t the right de­ci­sion. Cit­ing that Ishant might ben­e­fit with his height, Kohli has hurt Bhu­vnesh­war’s self-con­fi­dence,” Se­hwag said.

“They could have played Ishant in place of any other bowler. Bhu­vnesh­war per­formed well in Cape Town and ex­clud­ing him like this isn’t jus­ti­fied.”

73.2 av­er­age for Markram in Tests af­ter seven in­nings

Close: Ai­den missed ton by six runs.

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