PUNE: Three-day Test or four-day Test? That’s the question Team India posed which South Africa hoped that they would answer on the fifth day.
Replying to India’s 601 for five declared in the first innings, South Africa were 36 for three at stumps on the second day of second Test at Gahunje stadium here on Friday.
No play was lost on second day despite threat of the rain and the pitch was kind to those who put in efforts.
Virat Kohli hit a clinical unbeaten 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 ultra-cautious 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 mountain of runs on the board and ask the opposition to bat for that tricky last hour of the day – 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, encourage his batting partners and deflated the opposition morale.
Jadeja started slowly. But after India crossed 450, he showed his ways of unconventional shot-making. He scored his first 32 runs off 70 and the next 59 off 34.
In 39.1 overs, Kohli-Jadeja 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 were South Africa and their efforts in big patches.
The visitors quarreled 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 want to give example of helpless body language, you had to look at the South Africans who were hoping for wickets, errors from India batsmen and less punishment in terms of runs for 156.3 overs of the innings.
India could score only 159 runs off 56 overs from South Africa pacemen Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada. But of 84.3 overs of other three bowlers, they milked almost 400 runs. And then they said in the press conference “there was no such plan as such!”
South Africa panicked under pressure and captain Faf de Plessis changed the batting order sending Theunis 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. First, he trapped Aiden Markram plumb in front for 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 off-stump, Umesh did enough by posing consistent questions in the corridor of uncertainty.
Sticking to the horses for courses policy, India didn’t give new ball to Mohd Shami despite him being higher in the pecking order.
But Shami wasn’t to be denied share of the cake as he got Temba Bavuma on the first ball of his spell. The bowler was more confident about his caught behind appeal off a feather touch and the DRS went in his favour.