South Africa ease to 78/0 at lunch on flat pitch

Aubrey Yates
January 14, 2018

It was in late 2000 that Zaheer Khan clean-bowled three of Zimbabwe's tail-enders with yorkers, heralding his arrival as a star performer.

Earlier, in ideal conditions for batting, South Africa raised 78 for no loss in 27 overs at lunch.

Talking about the decision of batting first, Faf du Plessis expressed, " We are going to bat first again.

Set a target of 458 to win, South Africa fought to draw the Johannesburg Test in 2013 as Ashwin bowled 36 overs without any wicket.

Before that passage of play, it was South Africa all the way. Till the time he fell six short of his century, Markram showed what class is well about. I wasn't really thinking too much and delivering the ball. The hosts did not emulate the start they had in the first Test and openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram put up a partnership of 85 before Elgar was dismissed. Opening batsman KL Rahul was in for Shikhar Dhawan, wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel in for Wriddhiman Saha, and seam bowler Ishant Sharma for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Rabada's thrilling display of fast bowling helped South Africa to a 72-run victory in the first Test at Newlands, and catapulted the young firebrand to the summit of the International Cricket Council's test rankings. Before the first Test no-one thought that he should be in the eleven and now suddenly people are looking at the other option.

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Patel ended Markram's innings when he caught him behind off Ashwin - but then dropped Amla on 30 down the leg side off Ishant, the batsman's second lifeline after Pandya had shelled a tough chance at short mid-wicket when he had 14. With Amla set by then and AB de Villiers walking out, there was still no respite for the Indians, and a tea-time score of 182 for 2 in 56 overs spoke of how dominant South Africa had been.

Pandya and Ashwin were batting at No. 7 and 8 respectively, which suggests India have enough depth in their batting order - if their top-order players can get themselves through the new ball.

India turned the screws in the third session of the day. De Villiers had to leave for 20, and the Indians were jubilant.

Credit has to go to Hardik Pandya for changing direction in his follow-through, fielding a ball nearly at square leg, turning around and going for and achieving a direct hit at the end that the batsman - Hashim Amla, slower of the two at that time - didn't expect action.

Faf du Plessis' side, meanwhile, have now found an in-form bower in Vernon Philander, who bagged nine wickets in the first Test, including a six-wicket haul. Ashwin's three wickets have already had some impact but exactly how much of a say both he and Keshav Maharaj will have on this game may ultimately affect the assessment of groundsman Bryan Bloy's maiden Test strip.

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