January 20, 2018

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

14 January 2018, 06:34 | Randolph Howard

Hardik Pandya celebrates a wicket

Hardik Pandya wicket

Hashim Amla looked cool and calm in that manner of his, Faf du Plessis was keeping the ball out and nudging the odd single and India's bowlers were showing signs of tiredness, perfectly understandable in the baking heat in which they had to work all day.

India made two other changes.

Keshav Maharaj (18) was the first out when he edged Mohammed Shami to wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, the 100th wicket in test cricket for the seamer.

However, India will be frustrated at four spurned chances to end the partnership early, including the rarity of three dropped catches in two balls, all off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (4-113).

South Africa were comfortably placed at 246/3 at one stage. India lose their review.

At Wanderers India have an unbeaten record, winning in 2010-11 to share the series 1-1, and drawing the other three, including a freaky finish to a Test which the South Africans should have won, but they chose to settle for a draw, eighth-wicket pair Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn not wanting to take chances, even when they needed eight runs chasing 458. This was after South Africa won the toss and opted to bat.

India raised eyebrows when they left out their best bowler from the first Test Bhuvneshwar Kumar in favour of Ishant Sharma.

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Nearly all the South Africa batsmen got starts, with only Dean Elgar (31) and AB de Villiers (20) failing to convert them into a big ones and Quinton de Kock getting out for a duck. They dominated the first 80 overs of the game easily and completely out of the blue, in the final 10 overs, the visitors finished the day on a high, which indeed was surprising. "The Indian team I played against had their super stars for sure like this team has".

Though Du Plessis is expecting the batsmen to be more comfortable on this wicket, he is completely in the dark when it comes to the possibility of spin. "It was a bit of a nothing shot, I am still not over it", he admitted. His run-out of Amla touched off the collapse late in the day.

"It was a reality check in terms of not being able to win a Test match for the country on day five when all things were actually set up for a spinner", Ashwin said after bowling 30 overs for under three an over and three wickets to go with it.

Ashwin was dropped from the team after that game ended in a draw and had to work harder than ever to stage a comeback, which he did the following year.

With Elgar back and an out of form Amla coming into bat, the Indians looked to attack.

Dean Elgar (31) was Ashwin's other victim, while impressive seamer Ishant Sharma (1-32) induced an edge from the risky AB de Villiers (20) onto his own wicket.

South Africa made just one change in the match bringing in fast bowler Lungi Ngidi in place of Dale Steyn, who suffered a series-ending injury during the Cape Town Test.

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