India need Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya to stretch their partnership as far as possible on the third day if they are to get close to the South African total.
In what turned out to be a topsy-turvy day that saw a plenty of action on the field, South Africa seemed to be in the position of control on the second day of the second Test against India at Centurion.
Resuming from their overnight score of 269/6, Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis did well to not only get to his 17th Test half-century, but also held the innings together to guide the hosts past the 330-run mark when the possibility of getting bowled out for less than 300 looked very likely at one stage.
They were, of course, helped by some poor fielding by the Indians. Lower-order batsman Kagiso Rabada was dropped off successive deliveries in Ravichandran Ashwin’s 34th over of the innings — Kohli put down a tough chance at first slip followed by some miscommunication between Hardik Pandya and Mohammed Shami at point which led to the former fluffing an easy chance.
Indian openers Murali Vijay and KL Rahul got off to a promising start, but wickets off successive deliveries, that saw Cheteshwar Pujara getting run-out while taking a needless risk, pegged India's progress back. Captain Kohli and Vijay stitched a useful 79-run stand for the third wicket, which was ultimately broken by left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj with the latter departing four short of his half-century.
From thereon, India kept losing wickets at regular intervals. While Rohit Sharma disappointed with the bat yet again, Parthiv Patel turned out to be debutant Lungi Ngidi’s maiden Test wicket after edging the ball to Quinton de Kock.
With Kohli and No 7 batsman Hardik Pandya being India’s last hope of getting close to South Africa’s first innings total, or even aiming bigger, the two will need to put up a display of attrition on the third day. Pandya needs to get back the rhythm that guided him to a fighting 93 on a difficult Newlands wicket. Kohli is well settled at the crease, and has put up a positive display so far in the innings.
The lower-order, led by Ravichandran Ashwin, will also have a crucial role to play. However, it's the morning session that will decide which way the game turns. Kohli and Pandy would look to be mix caution with aggression with one eye on getting close to the South African total. The pitch still looks good for batting and the two need to make the most of it on day three.
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Du Plessis has represented CSK in 100 matches in two stints, first from 2011-15 then 2018-21. Moeen had also joined CSK in 2021.
Hardik Pandya has made a successful comeback to the India side in 2022 after struggling for form and fitness last year.
The 1992 World Cup-winning pacer Aaqib Javed has said that Hardik Pandya could be the difference maker in India vs Pakistan match as the Babar Azam-led side doesn't have an all-rounder like him.