KOHLI DOUBLES THE FUN Skipper’s Unbeaten 254, Jadeja’s Quickfire 91 Flatten SA; Visitors Reeling At 36/3 On Day 2
MARY KOM, THREE OTHER INDIANS FIGHT WORLD BOXING SEMIFINAL BOUTS TODAY | 28 MOST DOUBLE HUNDREDS AS CAPTAIN IN TESTS
Pune: Three-day Test or four-day Test? That’s the question that was on everyone’s mind at the end of Day Two of the second Test between hosts India and South Africa here at Gahunje on Friday. South Africa would hope that they would still be on the park trying to salvage a draw on Day Five.
It looks difficult though, as they slumped to 36 for 3 replying to India’s 601-5 declared in the first innings. No play was lost on the second day despite the persistent threat of rain and the pitch too was kind to those who were willing to put in effort. Virat Kohli hit a clinical double hundred (254 off 336b, 33x4s, 2x6s) and even allowed Ravindra Jadeja to go for his ton (91, 104b, 8x4s, 2x6s). Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane also scored an ultracautious half century (59 off 168 balls).
South Africa struggled to take two wickets for about 95 overs after the fall of Mayank Agarwal. But India got their first two wickets in just four overs. The peculiar nature of Test cricket — when you put a mountain of runs on the board and ask the opposition to bat for that tricky last hour — was on display.
Kohli’s was a captain’s innings of supreme will power and intensity. He concentrated on all aspects of batsmanship: surviving the rough period, mixed defence with offence, stole runs, encouraged his batting partners and deflated the morale of the opposition. Jadeja started slowly. But after India crossed 450, he showed off his unconventional shot-making. He scored his first 32 runs off 70 and the next 59 off 34.
In 39.1 overs, the Kohli-Jadeja duo added 225 runs for the fifth wicket (run rate 5.74). They plundered the last 136 runs in 17.3 overs. Yes, a par score in a T20 game. So ordinary was the South African attack and fielding effort.
The visitors quarrelled among themselves in the middle. Maybe it was a healthy debate. But none among the three pacers bowled in the last 18 overs and Rabada didn’t bowl for almost two and a half hours. If you wanted an example of helpless body language, you had to look at the South Africans, who were hoping for wickets and errors from the Indian batsmen.
India could score only 159 runs off 56 overs from South African pacemen Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada. But off the 84.3 overs of the other three bowlers, they milked almost 400 runs. And then they say in the press conference “there was no plan as such!”
South Africa panicked under pressure and captain Faf du Plessis changed the batting order sending Theunis Booysen de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma and debutant pacer Anrich Nortje (nightwatchman) ahead of himself.
India’s decision to bring in Umesh Yadav for
this game paid off as he removed both openers. He first trapped Aiden Markram plumb in front for a duck and then had last-Test centurion Dean Elgar bowled.
Though the left-handed batsman played on while attempting to leave the ball close to the offstump, Umesh did enough by posing consistent questions in the corridor of uncertainty.
Sticking to the horses for courses policy, India didn’t give the new ball to Mohd Shami despite him being higher in the pecking order.
But Shami wasn’t to be denied his share of the spoils as he got Temba Bavuma off the first ball of his spell. The bowler was confident about his caught behind appeal as the batsman had feathered it and the DRS only confirmed it. arc of the bat would have made Sachin Tendulkar proud.
And then came a four that pierced the tiny gap between extra-cover and mid-off. It was vintage Virat.
There was the trademark berating of himself too in the first session of play. He was critical of himself for not punching the ball enough through cover to fetch him more than a single.
After going past his double hundred, he hit some real boundaries. In limited overs cricket, you get many boundaries due to field restrictions since TV demands it. Here in the post-tea session, he was having fun with the rivals despite a spread-out field.
Not surprising then that Kohli was the dominant partner in the initial phase of his long association with Ravindra Jadeja. The latter scored only seven in the first half-century of the stand; and less than 25 when the partnership reached 100.
Kohli didn’t go for a triple hundred and declared about 80 minutes before scheduled close to give his bowlers enough overs. He probably took into account possible weather disruptions that have been forecast over the next couple of days. He didn’t take the field in the early part of the South African innings. But then, he marched in.
He wants to contribute extra. And doesn’t want to concede an extra inch. Run-aggregate at an average of 55.10 in 138 innings accomplished by Kohli to become the joint-fourth quickest to reach 7,000 runs in Tests behind Wally
Hammond (131 innings), Virender Sehwag (134) and Sachin Tendulkar (136). Two other batsmen had taken 138 innings for managing 7,000 runs — Garry Sobers and Kumar Sangakkara.
Feels great it’s a nice little thing to get along in your career, to get most number of double hundreds. I struggled to get big scores initially but then as soon as I became captain then you invariably just think about the team all the time, you can’t just think about your game. In that process you end up batting more than you can imagine. It’s difficult but if you keep thinking (about the) team then you push yourselves in situations you can’t otherwise.”
Hundreds in 50 Tests by Kohli as captain, emulating Australia’s Ricky Ponting’s feat of 19 in 77 Tests. South Africa’s Graeme Smith had registered 25 hundreds in 109 Tests as captain — the only captain ahead of Kohli. Runs put on by Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja — an Indian partnership record for the fifth wicket against South Africa in Tests, bettering the 220 between Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar at Bloemfontein in November 2001.
UNSTOPPABLE: Virat Kohli celebrates his double century in Pune on Friday V Kohli B Lara D Bradman M Clarke G Smith India WI Aus Aus SA 5 4 4 4 85 38 86 193