Fiery spells, wayward spells; great catches, dropped catches; gritty knocks and early flops. Day Two of the third Test between South Africa and India at the Newlands in Cape Town kept oscillating between hot and cold; clumsy and bold, for most part.
SCORECARD | AS IT HAPPENED
The last half-an-hour of play though tilted the proceedings in favour of the hosts, leaving the Indian team in a precarious position, the scoreboard reading 57-2 at stumps.
Going into Day Three, India lead by 70 runs and what they manage to add from here is how this Test will build up over the next three sessions. In the last 45 minutes of play on Wednesday, after a long day at work already, India walked out to bat in their second innings and lost openers Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul early. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, India’s most valuable assets with the bat, were at the crease.
Kohli (14 off 39) looked like he was continuing from where he’d left on Tuesday while Pujara (9 off 31) remained his cautious self – the duo avoiding any further damage. Any target less than 250 runs, at a minimum, won’t be a healthy one for this Indian team to defend apropos of bowling fourth on this wicket.
South Africa chased 240 at the Wanderers, on a fairly unpredictable wicket, some really uneven bounce, with seven wickets to spare and there’s no reason why Dean Elgar’s team cannot pull it off again.
There should be another stark reminder to what is at stake for the Indian team in this Test. South Africa is the only overseas destination where India have never won a Test series and Kohli’s team is technically six sessions away from changing that bit of history forever.
On Wednesday, South Africa began the first session on their overnight score of 17-1 in reply to India’s 223 all out on Day One. By the time they were finished, the hosts had fallen short by 13 runs. India could’ve done better to restrict South Africa a bit earlier. Had Rishabh Pant taken that edge off Rassie van der Dussen‘s bat, had Umesh Yadav sprayed the ball around a bit less, had Ajinkya Rahane hit the stumps. Too many ‘only ifs’ marred their chances alongside some determination shown by the South African middle-order.
In Pics: Bumrah takes five as India move ahead against South Africa in third Test
<p>Jasprit Bumrah took 5-42 as India bowled South Africa out for 210 and then drove home their advantage with the bat as they ended day two of the decisive third and final Test on 57 for two in their second innings at Newlands on Wednesday. (Reuters Photo)</p>
Jasprit Bumrah’s seventh five-wicket haul, Mohammed Shami’s tighter line post-tea, Virat Kohli’s brilliant catches in the slips – his 99th & 100th – are reasons India had stayed ahead by inches all day before the final session threatened to snatch it all away. The day, as much as it belonged to Bumrah, belonged to Keegan Petersen. An astonishingly confident 166-ball 72 and two very useful partnerships – 67 runs for the fourth wicket with van der Dussen and 47 runs for the fifth wicket with Temba Bavuma – earned the youngster lavish praise as he single-handedly pushed his team past 175.
Bumrah put in a fiery shift, 5-42 off 23. 3 overs, but some more bite from the other end would’ve worked better for Kohli. Petersen’s grit and self-assurance brought to South Africa on Day Two what Kohli’s 79 had brought to India on Day One. Scores of 25, 21 and 28 from Keshav Maharaj, van der Dussen and Bavuma added to Petersen’s contribution and in hindsight, each run – including the 21-run stand between Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier for the ninth wicket – remained worth its weight in gold.
Two wickets down already, how India bat on Day Three – and ensure a good target – will determine the endgame. Batting last on this Cape Town wicket won’t be easy but batting last in Johannesburg wasn’t a cakewalk either.