Different day, same story. The second day’s play of the Ranchi Test was reminiscent of all the pain that has been inflicted upon Faf du Plessis’ side on their disastrous tour of India - both on the bowling and batting front.
The day started with a hopeful South Africa looking to break the Rohit Sharma-Ajinkya Rahane partnership and then run through the lower-order. But the track was of little assistance in the morning session, far less than it did during the opening session of the Test match a day earlier. Except one delivery from Anrich Nortje that skidded through the surface squaring up Rahane, the Proteas’ bowlers did not have much assistance from the conditions.
As a consequence, the Mumbai duo of Rohit and Rahane continued to bat without any fuss. Rahane, 83 not out overnight, extended his tally of Test hundreds on home soil to four by tapping the ball towards the left of the cover point fielder off his 169th ball.
Rohit, on the other hand, made batting look ridiculously easy as he always does after notching up a ton. In an effortless display of strokeplay, the right-hander struck Lungi Ngidi for three boundaries in the 68th over of the innings - a deflection off his legs, a sumptuous backfoot punch and a late cut to run the ball through the vacant third slip region confirming the tourists’ misery on the second morning.
The deflated South Africa seemed like waiting for the batsmen to make a mistake which eventually happened once Rahane completed his hundred. The right-hander looked a little hurried after reaching three figures and became the first Test victim for both, the bowler, George Linde and the wicket-keeper, Heinrich Klaasen. But the damage was done. Rahane had scored 115 in an eye-catching partnership of 267 runs for the fourth wicket. It is the fifth highest fourth wicket partnership in India’s Test history and the third highest by a Mumbai pair.
With Rohit still in the middle, there was hardly any respite for the bowlers. Joined by Ravindra Jadeja in the middle who is enjoying his best batting year in Test cricket (an average in excess of 60 this year), added 64 runs for the fifth wicket along with Rohit, who holed out for 212, his maiden Test double hundred. He joined the elite list of Indian batsmen who have amassed a double hundred in both ODIs and Test cricket. He also became the first Indian batsman to brought up a Test double hundred with a six, hence, giving the perfect tribute to the birthday boy, Virender Sehwag who had started the trend of reaching milestones with a boundary.
Jadeja forged brief partnerships with Wriddhiman Saha and his partner in crime with the ball, Ravichandran Ashwin taking India’s total to 450 and also completing his 13th half-century in Test cricket. He got out soon after, falling to Linde, and was replaced by Umesh Yadav who was in the mood to have fun. Walking out to bat with two balls left in the over, Umesh began his innings with two sixes in a row. In a sparkling innings of 31 off 10 balls, he became the only Test cricketer to hit five sixes in an innings without bothering about a four. His assault on the South African spinners took India’s total from 450 to 482 in a space of 14 balls. Mohammed Shami also contributed with a six before Virat Kohli declared the innings with the scoreboard reading 497 for nine at Tea.
Already warmed up after contributing to India’s six galore, both Shami and Umesh did not take much time to inflict further pain to South Africa’s agony. Shami, bowling the first over, started with loosener down the leg-side but his next delivery was a snorter going across Dean Elgar who could not decide whether to play the ball or shoulder arms. Shami’s pace did not give the southpaw much time either who ended up gloving the ball to the wicket-keeper, Wriddhiman Saha.
Like Shami, Umesh also did not waste much time. A ripping bouncer targeting Quinton de Kock’s head brushed the gloves of the batsmen to be caught safely by Saha pinning the visitors down to eight for two.
The fading light did not allow the fast bowlers to operate further. The debutant, Shahbaz Nadeem and Ravindra bowled the next three overs before the play was called off for the day due to bad light.