Sensational Shami sizzles to put India in pole position in Centurion

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28 Dec 2021 | 04:02 PM
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Sensational Shami sizzles to put India in pole position in Centurion

The right-armer bowled a perfect spell to claim the sixth five-wicket haul of his Test career

It was the Mohammed Shami show in Centurion on Tuesday as the right-armer bowled one of the best spells of his career to give India a 130-run lead in the first Test and put them in pole position. A stunning collapse in the first session saw India squander their advantage and be bowled out for 327, but a sensational five-fer from Shami helped the visitors bowl the Proteas out for 197 and take a 130-run lead. 

India suffer catastrophic morning collapse to surrender advantage 

On Boxing Day, India had as good a Day 1 as they could have hoped for. They won the toss, batted first, batted well and had two set batters taking the team through the stumps. At 272/3, with a day being washed out due to rain, they were in pole position to bat the Proteas out of the contest for good. All they needed to do heading into Day 3 was avoid a major collapse. Well, spoilers, they didn’t.

It took just four overs for South Africa to strike, with Rahul gloving one to de Kock off a Rabada short ball, and the first dismissal triggered a stunning implosion. 

Rahane, Pant, Ashwin, Thakur all perished inside the next four overs, and from 272/3, India were reduced to 304/8 in the blink of an eye. The Proteas bowlers, without a doubt, bowled much tighter lines in comparison to the first day, but the flurry of wickets was more down to the Indian batters, who kept playing one loose shot after another.

While Rahane slashed at a wide one, Pant and Ashwin scooped balls to fielders in the inner-ring after failing to negate the extra bounce. Thakur, meanwhile, died by the sword in trademark fashion.

The last two wickets added 23 runs but India were bowled out for 327, losing 55/7 in a stunning morning session.

South Africa had 7 overs to negate before lunch, but that was enough for India to make inroads as Bumrah sent skipper Dean Elgar back to the hut in the very first over. Elgar was bamboozled by late movement, and he nicked one to Pant as the Proteas lost their first on ball number five.

Markram and Keegan Petersen were solid, though, and they took the team through to lunch unscathed, the hosts 21/1.

Stunning Shami brings South Africa to their knees 

Prior to this series, Shami averaged 20.91 in South Africa, by far his best numbers in any SENA country. And today, the veteran seamer showed just why he has a remarkable record in the Rainbow Nation. The stump-to-stump line he bowls, coupled with the late movement he generates, makes him unplayable when the wicket has something to offer. That was certainly the case today in Centurion.

South Africa went to lunch 21/1, with both Markram and Petersen looking solid. But it took Shami all of three balls to strike in the second session, Petersen being bowled via a nip-backer. Shami continued bowling unplayable deliveries and soon he saw the back of Markram through a delivery that could easily turn out to be the ball of the series. The Red Kookaburra angled in, pitched on middle-stump and tailed away at the very last moment to clip the top of off-stump. A dream delivery.

Siraj soon after got the wicket of Van der Dussen to reduce the hosts to 32/4, but then a fine 72-run stand between Bavuma and de Kock ensued. Both batters played freely and dispatched every bad delivery to the boundary. The partnership lasted 22 overs before it was broken by Shardul Thakur, who managed to send de Kock back to the hut after the southpaw chopped-on.

Shami, during this period, had gone wicketless, but he resumed his show once again as he dismissed both Wiaan Mulder and half-centurion Temba Bavuma in the span of four overs to bring South Africa to their knees. Bavuma, in particular, was looking ominous, but Shami bowled the perfect delivery, a peach that tailed away in the last moment, to dismiss the right-hander for 52. With no recognized batters left, the hosts were reeling at 144/7.

It was then that the Proteas finally started showing resistance again, through a fine stand between Rabada and debutant Jansen. The duo batted for 10 overs and put on 37 runs. But just when the partnership was starting to frustrate India, the man with the golden arm, Shardul, trapped Jansen in front to provide the crucial breakthrough.

Shami returned to dismiss Rabada and picked a deserved five-fer, and in the process brought up 200 Test wickets, and the job was finished off by Bumrah, who dismissed Maharaj as India bowled South Africa out for 197 to take a 130-run lead. 

Jansen removes Mayank Agarwal as India end day on 16/1

Six overs was all India had to negate in the final 30 minutes, but after 5 underwhelming overs from Rabada and Ngidi, young Marco Jansen struck on his first ball to remove Mayank Agarwal. Jansen had to wait till the very end in the first innings to claim his first Test wicket, but here he angled one across the batter to claim his second wicket of the Test. India sent in Thakur as the night watchman, and the all-rounder negated the remaining balls safely to take India to stumps on 16/1, 146 ahead. 

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South Africa vs IndiaIndia tour of South Africa, 2021/22IndiaSouth AfricaMohammed ShamiKagiso RabadaTemba BavumaLungi Ngidi

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