Centurion Test: Proteas ask India to field first

Aubrey Yates
January 14, 2018

The ball is now squarely in Faf du Plessis' court to get the Proteas lower order through the hard second new ball period and to give them a chance of posting a competitive total.

Ravichandran Ashwin was back among wickets as India clawed their way back into the second Test against South Africa at the SuperSport Park, Centurion on Saturday. He also acknowledged that Indian bowlers erred in reading the bounce in the South African first innings, which yielded 286 runs for the hosts.

Ravichandran Ashwin has been one of the mainstays of the Indian spin bowling attack for a while now.

The visitors made three changes to their playing XI, with KL Rahul replacing Dhawan and Ishant Sharma coming in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, whose three-wicket burst on the first morning of the opening Test rocked the home side. Ashwin said failure to deliver for his team in the past hit his pride and hoped his three-wicket haul on day one was enough to keep India afloat in the second Test.

Opener Aiden Markram made 94 as South Africa put together partnerships of 85, 63 and 51 for the first three wickets to control most of the day.

Hashim Amla and du Plessis did look like steadying the ship but a piece of brilliance in the field by Hardik Pandya saw the former being run out for 82. He would have scalped a five-for had Parthiv Patel held onto a clear edge.

Shami and Bumrah, who troubled the South African batsmen in Cape Town, looked out of sorts on Saturday, conceding at 4.18 and 3.17 respectively without being able to get a breakthrough for the team.

Parthiv Patel has been included into the squad to replace Wriddhiman Saha, who is out with a hamstring niggle.

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"It's all part of the game".

"He just said "well played" and that I was unlucky to get out".

India dismissed South Africa for 335 at Centurion.

South Africa profited with what could be crucial first innings runs through this period, before Rabada was superbly caught by, ironically, Pandya at deep mid-wicket as he attempted a hook off the excellent Ishant Sharma (3-46). He was not only the star of the day but also opened game for India when team was struggling for a wicket. "So, this was one of those days". All of a sudden, I really had to pull myself back and think 'I am in the game now'.

India set South Africa 458 to win with more than a day to bowl them out. "I like to think I've been dogged". Elgar departed for 31 runs off 83 balls hitting four boundaries in the process.

"Massively disappointed, " he said.

It will not get any easier for the southpaw as the pitch at Centurion is expected to be a bit more bouncy.

Ashwin became the only Indian spinner to bowl 31 overs on the first day of a Test outside Asia since 2000. Shami thus joined the likes of Kapil Dev, Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath, Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan and Karsan Gharvi to attain 100 scalps. Hashim Amla's batting was as good as ever, with his magical wrists piercing gaps and often sending the ball to large vacant spaces.

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