Shardul Thakur picks up 7 wickets for 61 runs as South Africa are all out for 229 runs.
Brief Scores: India 85-2 (C Pujara 35*, M Jansen 1-18) & 202 (KL Rahul 50, R Ashwin 46, M Jansen 4-31, K Rabada 3-64) leads South Africa 229 (K Petersen 62, T Bavuma 51, S Thakur 7-61) by 58 runs at Stumps on Day 2
After an impressive day with ball in hand restricting India to just over 200 in the first innings, hosts South Africa looked to extend their grab on the game with a heavy lead on Day 2; on the flipside of the coin, India aimed to take early wickets to reduce the Proteas to a low score.
It would be another day when the Indian bowlers had to step on the gas to save their side. An oft-repeated chain of events that has catapulted India to the top of the Test rankings.
The 22-yards at Wanderers on Day 2
After a thunderstorm at dawn, the sun was shining brightly in Johannesburg to set stage for the game. The strip had quickened up a bit from yesterday. There were some good areas to exploit as a bowler; the cracks would produce some variable bounce as well as movement off the surface. All in all, a tough batting wicket.
Session 1: Thakur produces magic to take three wickets for India, Peterson fifty takes SA to 102/4
India began the session with their prime bowlers, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, asking several questions to both South African overnight batters. Even though, not many runs were scored, Keegan Petersen and Dean Elgar stayed in the middle and picked up runs later against a gingerly running Mohammad Siraj who seemed to be struggling with his hamstring.
Ravichandran Ashwin was introduced early in the attack but the batting pair kept on frustrating the Indians. At last, the visitor’s rescue man Shardul Thakur was introduced into the attack. He first found the edge of defensive Elgar to send him back for a 120-ball 28. New Protea star Petersen notched up his maiden half-century but fell soon to Thakur to a wide ball outside the off stump.
At the stroke of lunch, Thakur took Rassie van der Dussen with the right-hander edging one behind the stumps; even though close replays suggested that the ball had bounced in front of keeper Rishabh Pant.
Session 2: Thakur’s maiden fifer lifts India after Bavuma’s fifty; South Africa 191/7
The post-lunch session was quite a carbon-copy of the first two-hour period. The two new batters, Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne, stitched out a solid partnership of 60 runs to take the home side out of jail. The Indian bowlers did try their best but after a long time, the mindset and the energy in the field felt a bit flat.
Captain KL Rahul was looking for some immediate inspiration from the bowlers to get India back on track and again Shardul Thakur had been given the onus. He broke the rigid partnership by sending opposition wicketkeeper Verreynne back with a straight ball trapping him LBW. Temba Bavuma reached his 17th half-century in quite an aggressive mode but failed to continue tickling on the leg side. In this process, Shadul Thakur became the 6th Indian bowler to take a 5-wicket haul at Wanderers. Shami came back to dismiss Kagiso Rabada later for a duck.
Session 3: South Africa bundled out with a lead of 27 runs
The tailenders batted just the way what the doctor ordered. They didn’t panic to play their shots and with thick edges, runs had begun to come rapidly. Bumrah knocked over Keshav Maharaj to end the frustrating partnership before Shardul Thakur came back to pack the hosts. Even though they had already taken a lead of 27-runs which could draw a line between the two sides.
Shardul Thakur joins record-books
Shardul Thakur now holds the best ever innings figures of 7-61 for India against and in South Africa. Also, since the home side’s re-admission in 1992, Thakur’s 7-61 would be the joint-best figures for any bowler at the Wanderers after Matthew Hoggard achieved the same feat in 2004/05.
Aggressive India wipes out Protea’s advantage, lead by 58 runs at Stumps
India’s openers kicked off their second innings quite aggressively hitting regular boundaries. But soon, Marco Jansen drew first blood sending in-form KL Rahul back in the hut. Mayank Agarwal too joined his Karnataka friend misjudging an inswinging delivery from Duanne Olivier. Two new batters, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, who perhaps were playing for their spots, looked positive and batted beautifully to extend India’s lead to 58 runs at Stumps.
What to look forward to on Day 3
A lead of around 250-270 runs would be what India will aim to put South Africa in a spot of bother in the 4th innings. The scoring rate of 4.25 registered by India in the last session may create nightmares for Dean Elgar and his lads. South Africa have to pick early wickets and restrict the tourists around 210-220 to level up in the series. With the pitch already having shown its mischievous behavior, batting is going to be tough; never mind chasing a huge score.
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