By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Dec 19, 2013
South Africa finished Day Two of the first Test against India at 213 for six and are 67 runs behind. Earlier in the day, India were bowled out for 280 after resuming overnight on 255 for five. Vernon Philander rocked India as he finished with figures of four for 61 to help South Africa roar back. In reply, South Africa were going well with Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla in control, but the Indian seamers hit back to get their side in the game. In the end, Philander did his bit with the bat to help South Africa end the day on a better note.
Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni were circumspect early on and were watching the ball when India resumed the day. There was a bit of moisture in the air as it had rained a bit in Johannesburg. Rahane got things going with a push through the covers for four and that was his only scoring shot of the day. However, it was a battle of attrition thereafter. Dhoni and Rahane were content in blocking and seeing it through.
Morne Morkel was getting the ball to climb and he had Dhoni for 19 as he edged one outside the off-stump. Rahane soon followed as he poked at one outside the off-stump from Vernon Philander. Zaheer Khan was trapped plumb in front by Philander off the first ball and the South African was now on a hat-trick. Ishant Sharma, however, played it with control.
Ravichandran Ashwin essayed a few confident strokes and extended India’s charge from 264 to 280.
When South Africa started their innings, Smith was troubled early by Zaheer. He was hit on the pads off the second ball of innings, but the impact was outside the line. Zaheer kept moving it away from Petersen as well and gave both batsmen a few nervous moments. Smith inside edged one on his knee and need the physio’s attention. Petersen then got into his stride with a few good strokes. The one that stood out was a pull through square for four off Zaheer.
South Africa resumed after lunch at 22 for no loss after bowling India out for 280 in the morning session. Runs flowed easily early on as both Smith and Alviro Petersen picked boundaries. Petersen had just pushed Ishant behind for four, but the speedster hit back by trapping him leg before.
Amla was welcomed to the crease with a barrage of short deliveries and he kept ducking. Smith survived a testing spell from Zaheer and also managed a few boundaries. He hit one down the ground to get some confidence and also picked one through the leg side.
However, the battle continued with Zaheer brushing past Smith’s outside edge a few times. On one occasion, he got the edge, but Ravichandran Ashwin wasn’t able to take a low catch to his left at first-slip. Zaheer also had another edge off Smith’s bat and it went through to the third-man boundary for four.
Ishant also had Smith edging a few, but they too went into no man’s land and into the boundaries. Gradually, Smith grew in confidence and although he was tested a few times. Amla too started stroking boundaries. When Zaheer returned in the 30th over, he was driven through the off-side for four and was also pushed past point. Ravichandran Ashwin was brought into the attack late in the second session and was immediately hit over mid-on by Smith as he moved to his fifty. At the end of the session, Smith was on 62 and Amla remained unbeaten on 30.
Soon after tea, Amla misjudged one from Ishant as it came back into him. He let it go through and it disturbed his woodwork. At that stage, the score read 130 for two. Kallis walked in and got a full delivery first up. He was rooted to the crease and Ishant trapped him plumb in front. The hat-trick ball was outside the off stump and AB de Villiers let it go through.
In the next over, the inevitable happened. Zaheer moved two away from Smith and then pitched it full and moved it in. Smith was trapped plumb in front.
JP Duminy and de Villiers were in the centre to battle the Indian bowling. Mohammed Shami was then brought back into the attack and he had Duminy caught at first-slip with one that moved a bit away. Later in the same over, de Villiers was trapped in front with one that came into him. India now had South Africa at 146 for six. They had lost five wickets for 16 runs.
Philander entered the stage and calmly helped South Africa rebuild. He picked boundaries and kept the scoring going. Faf du Plessis was quiet at the other end as Philander did most of the scoring. Late in the day, India were given a chance by du Plessis, but Rohit Sharma dropped the catch in the slips. The unbeaten stand of 66 between du Plessis and Philander came as a saving grace and helped them finish the day on a decent note.
It has been a riveting game of cricket today and if the first two days are anything to go by, there is a lot more excitement in store.
India 280 (Virat Kohli 119, Ajinkya Rahane 47; Vernon Philander 4 for 61, Morne Morkel 3 for 34) lead South Africa 213 for 6 (Graeme Smith 68, Vernon Philander 48*; Ishant Sharma 3 for 64, Mohammed Shami 2 for 47) by 67 runs.
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