The pitch still looks good for batting and with Kohli at the crease, it will be ominous signs
After another intriguing day's play, the second Test between India and South Africa is evenly poised. It was again a mixed day for both the teams. The Proteas, after a a solid start, lost their way in the last session on the first day and ended on 269/6. With Faf Du Plessis, the overnight batsman, 350 or 400 was still a possibility. However India did well to restrict the hosts to 335. The total elicited mixed feeling especially with the pitch looking good for batting. However, the Proteas started off well and sent back KL Rahil and Chetwehwar Pujara off successive deliveries inside first 10 overs.
The Murali Vijay- Virat Kohli partnership threatened to take the advantage away from the Proteas, but Keshav Maharaj, who lacked sharpness, broke the 79-run stand after having Vijay caught behind. Rabada bowled with fire and was probably the best bowler of the day. He generated decent reverse and trapped Rohit Sharma LBW before Lungi Ngidi opened his wicket account with a peach to dismiss Parthiv Patel.
The South African bowlers earned their wickets but amidst all this, Kohli was fighting it out in the middle. The Proteas pacers beat his outside edge numerous times and even came close to trapping him LBW but for a thin edge of his bat. After the first Test, Kohli had talked about the need to show intent. Here he was showing the intent with an aggressive 85 not out off 130 balls. What South African bowlers did well was pick up wickets at crucial intervals. They didn't allow big partnerships. However, when Kohli gets set, it's almost next to improbable to get him out and this is where the South African attack needs to go all out in the first hour in the morning and get him out as early as possible.
The pitch still looks good for batting and with Kohli at the crease, it will be ominous signs for the home. Maintaining accuracy and discipline will be the key. However, all the attention shouldn't be on Kohli because Hardik Pandya is playing at the other end and he was the one who played a whirlwind innings in the first Test to keep India alive. If they get Pandya and Ravichandran Ashwin cheaply too, they will run into proper tail.
South Africa will be looking to attain a lead of 70 or 80 because batting on this pitch might get tricky against Ashwin who looked dangerous in the first innings. Philander needs to up the ante on day three along with Maharaj who might play a crucial role just like Ashwin did. Another fascinating day awaits us today.
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The new version of Pandya has learned to play second fiddle and a supporting role as a batter, where he lets those ahead of him in the order, or even those following, do their stuff while he keeps up the scoring rate without getting too flashy.
Pandya was dismissed in the penultimate over for 46 off 31 balls, Karthik ensured India end the innings with momentum on their side. He notched up his maiden fifty in the final over and he got to his landmark in 26 balls.