The 59 overs bowled on Day 1 was followed by 75 overs on Day 2. In what was another truncated day of Test cricket, South Africa cruised past India to claim the driver’s seat heading into Day 3.
The day began with KL Rahul’s ton, who brought it up with a brilliant swipe past cow-corner to become only the second Indian wicket-keeper to score a ton in South Africa. Along with Mohammed Siraj, the duo stitched a 47-run-partnership for the ninth wicket, a record for India against South Africa, to help India end their first innings with 245 runs on the board.
Having seen what the ball had been doing on Day 1, India would have fancied their chances against this South African batting lineup, and the early dismissal of Aiden Markram was in line with the start the visitors were expecting.
Except, that’s where Dean Elgar happened.
In his typical non-elegant style, he went about his business. It was almost a repeat of what we'd seen in India’s previous tours. Consistently being beaten and bruised, and somehow finding a way to grind it out and tire the bowlers.
The only difference was the number of freebies Indian bowlers dished out. While he was beaten on the odd good ball, he managed to score boundaries almost at will. He’s scored 23 boundaries in this knock so far, second only to the 24 boundaries he scored against New Zealand in 2017.
Temba Bavuma’s injury
Leading his side to reduce India to just 24/3, Temba Bavuma pulled his hamstring while running behind the ball from mid-off. He immediately went off the field and was sent for scans later in the day.
It was later revealed that he had suffered a left hamstring strain and would undergo medical evaluations on a regular basis to determine his further participation in the Test. Given that it was an external injury, commentators revealed that he could only walk in to bat post the fall of the fifth wicket.
However, the fall of Verreynne’s wicket brought in Marco Jansen. This all but confirmed that Bavuma will most likely not be taking any part in at least the first innings. It’s yet to be confirmed if he will play any further role in this match.
Having arguably been South Africa’s best batter in this format in the recent past, this could turn out to be a deal clincher, should the Proteas be chasing anything above par in the final innings. Elgar’s ton in the first innings has also ensured that they’ve not felt their skipper’s absence, but they would still want to get as many runs as possible to make up for his potential absence in the final innings of the Test.
David Bedingham’s outstanding debut
A player they almost lost to England due to the Kolpak rule, David Bedingham finally made his international debut for the Proteas. While all those who’ve known his style of play aren’t one bit surprised with the knock, this was some way to announce your arrival in international cricket.
His first genuine scoring shot was a strong pull off Prasidh Krishna past the deep square leg fence. He was one of the only batters to be comfortable attacking deliveries bowled at 6m - 8m mark, and also entertained with some delightful drives.
Having scored bucket loads of runs on the domestic circuit in both England and South Africa, he has the third highest average (55.5) among batters who have scored more than 3,000 first-class runs in the last two years, behind only Nishan Madushka (59.5) and Usman Khawaja (55.6).
The debutant’s assured presence also allowed Elgar from the other end to continue at the same tempo, without really compromising on the scoring rate. Their 131-run stand came at 4.4 RPO, practically taking the game away from India in the latter half of the day.
India’s lackluster bowling
It wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say that this was probably India’s worst bowling in a Test match in the last decade or so.
After starting off with the early wicket of Markram, Dean Elgar and Tony de Zorzi took a liking to the Indian bowlers. They first saw through the experienced duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, before latching on to Prasidh Krishna and Shardul Thakur.
They were particularly dismissive of Prasidh who was making his Test debut for India. Pretty much baptism by fire for the Karnataka lad, and the pressure seemed to have gotten to him in his first spell. He constantly erred on the fuller side, presumably in search of some swing, and bowled very unlike what he usually does with the red ball. He conceded 34 runs in his first spell of six overs.
If the bowling wasn’t good, the captaincy wasn’t any better. After heading to Lunch with the match still in balance, Rohit Sharma decided to stick with Prasidh Krishna and Shardul Thakur for the first eight overs of the new session. Even the usage of Ashwin was questionable, making one wonder what was his role in the XI.
Barring Bedingham’s wicket, every time Indian bowlers dragged their lengths back, they fetched a wicket. Prasidh himself ended the day with his maiden Test wicket, that of Kyle Verreynne. His final spell saw him attack the hard lengths a lot more and the result was there for everyone to see.
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