India Fightback Jolts South Africa
India's trio of pace bowlers Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami rocked South Africa in the post-tea session on day two of the first Test in Johannesburg, leaving them 213 for six at stumps. At the Wanderers stadium, the hosts lost five wickets for 16 runs in just 6.3 overs, to trail by 67 runs at close of play.
It was akin to India’s collapse in the morning session, when they had lost five wickets for 16 runs in 4.1 overs, to be bowled out for 280 in their first innings.
However, Faf du Plessis (17 not out, 55 balls, one four) and Vernon Philander (48 not out, 76 balls, five fours) put on 67 runs for the seventh wicket to stem the rot. Ishant Sharma was the pick of the bowlers with three for 64 from 20 overs, while Shami picked up two for 48 in 18 overs.
Zaheer, making his comeback after a year, was a workhorse, bowling 22 out of 66 overs, finishing the day with one for 72.
The Proteas skipper Graeme Smith (68) and Hashim Amla (36) started proceedings after tea, at 118 for one, looking to further frustrate the Indians and increase their 81-run partnership for the second wicket. They could add only 12 runs though, before the drama began and wickets started falling in a heap.
Amla was the first to go. In the 37th over of the innings, he had cut Ishant for over slips and it seemed like there might be some slow reverse swing available for the medium pacers. In his next over, Ishant was on the money again, bringing the ball back into Amla sharply, as the batsman looked to leave and was bowled. He scored 36 runs off 74 balls, with six fours, as the floodgates opened.
Jacques Kallis (0) walked in and walked out the very next minute, missing the line of another inswinger and out plumb LBW.
Ishant was on a hat-trick, but AB de Villiers had no problems facing up. Buoyed by this revival, Zaheer got Smith trapped LBW in the very next over, as South Africa lost three wickets for no runs in nine deliveries.
He made 68 runs off 119 balls, with 11 fours. This was the seventh time in 10 Tests that Zaheer dismissed him, and 14th overall across all formats, with 68 being the highest Smith has managed in those 14 innings.
Shami came on to bowl in the 45th over and the mayhem continued, as he struck with his first ball, removing JP Duminy (two runs, 12 balls), caught at first slip by Murali Vijay. Two later, and it was AB de Villiers (13 runs, 21 balls, one four) walking back, out LBW, as South Africa lost five for 16 in just 39 balls.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had rotated his three quicker bowlers all day as Ravichandran Ashwin (0-25) bowled only six overs in the South African innings. Perhaps they were tired towards the end, as du Plessis played with patience and Philander threw his bat around to put together 67 runs for the seventh wicket, taking them to stability.
In fact, du Plessis could have been out, but Rohit Sharma dropped him in the 64th over off Shami, when he was on 17.
Earlier, South Africa seemed to be in a solid position, reaching 118 for one at tea. Smith scored his 38th Test fifty – and his eighth against this opponent – beginning the post-lunch session at 22 without loss. They only lost the wicket of his opening partner Alviro Peterson, a sharp incoming delivery from Ishant trapping him LBW in the 14th over. He was out for 21 runs, off 41 balls with four fours, as India celebrated their first breakthrough.
Amla and Smith then frustrated the Indian bowlers, who toiled hard and bowled with better line and length as compared to the Proteas' attack on day one. The latter was particularly lucky, as Zaheer induced an edge in the 17th over of the innings, only for Ashwin to drop him at first slip.
Smith was on 19 at that time. Thereafter they brought up their 50-run partnership in the 25th over of the innings, striking Ishant for two fours. The hundred for South Africa came up in the 31st over.
In the morning session, South Africa dismissed India for 280 runs in their first innings, their last five wickets falling for just 25 runs added to their overnight score of 255 for five. Philander finished with four for 61 from 27 overs, while Morkel picked three for 34.
Dale Steyn bowled three overs on the second morning but he failed to add to his tally, finishing with one for 61. Jacques Kallis (1-37) took a wicket as well, while Imran Tahir (0-47) and JP Duminy (0-30) had gone wicketless in their short spells on day one.
For India, Ashwin was the unbeaten batsman, 13 not out off 11 balls, with one four.
Starting at their overnight score, Indian skipper Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane looked to build on the platform provided by Virat Kohli’s day one hundred.
The former was accounted for by Morkel in the 99th over, out for 19 runs adding only two from yesterday. He faced 72 balls and hit three fours.
In the very next over, Philander made the ball leave off stump just a tad and Rahane was out caught behind. He made 47 runs, adding only five to his overnight score, as India’s hopes for a 350-plus total were undone. He faced 137 balls and hit eight fours in his long stay at the wicket.
Philander then trapped Zaheer Khan (first ball duck) plumb off his next ball, and althought Ishant denied him a hat-trick, he was bowled in the 102nd over for an eleven-ball duck. Morkel then bowled Shami (0), finishing off the visitors’ first innings.
On day one, Virat Kohli’s fifth Test hundred, 119 runs off 181 balls (18 fours), batting at number four after the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, had taken his side to a par-score on the opening day of the two Test series.
© Cricket World 2013