Day 2 evenly poised as Ngidi claims maiden wicket

Hardik Pandya

Hardik Pandya

Hashim Amla looked cool and calm in that manner of his, Faf du Plessis was keeping the ball out and nudging the odd single and India's bowlers were showing signs of tiredness, perfectly understandable in the baking heat in which they had to work all day.

Ngidi did have his man shortly after, though, when he had Parthiv Patel (19) caught behind for what was the moment of the day at Centurion. Hence India has only played one spinner in both the tests.

Kohli and Vijay had been joined at the crease during the second session, following the loss of two wickets in two balls.

Immediately on the next ball, Cheteshwar Pujara was run- out for his career's first golden duck as he set off on a suicidal run and failed to beat Lungi Ngidi's throw from mid- on. If there were scars from Cape Town, he didn't carry them here.

Kohli started positively but he and Vijay were tied down by some accurate bowling on a slow pitch.

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"And then, when we walked onto the ground [on Friday], [the pitch] was white in colour - the grass was coming off".

Rahul could make his way back at the cost of Dhawan and not Vijay, given that the latter still happens to be a more experienced hand given the conditions in South African.

While Vijay was cautious without being too circumspect, Kohli was off in a style.

Before he fatally chose to cut a delivery from left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj that was not quite short enough for the stroke, opener M. Vijay (46) batted with balance and composure. It was another brain fade from a solid Indian batsman on a day underlined by lapses in concentration.

The skipper also added 25 runs with Rohit Sharma (10) for the fourth wicket. It was another classic example of Rohit's front-and-across shuffle, and also wasted a review.

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Shikhar Dhawan dropped Keshav Maharaj in the first innings of the opening Test match when he had just come out to bat. Apart from a sustained bouncer attack, South Africa did almost everything right against Kohli. The next ball, Rabada tried to slash over point only to manage top-edge.

Amla had carded scores of 3 and 0 in the first Test at Newlands, but on this surface he looked at ease from the beginning to the end of his knock, which came in unfortunate fashion. However, in light of the two-paced nature of the track, South Africa will feel a little better as they still have a significant lead over the tourists.

Off-spinner Ashwin isn't that much more successful in Asia - where he averages 22.75 - than elsewhere, where that number is 24.97. First, Kagiso Rabada (on 1) was dropped at slip off Ashwin by Virat Kohli.

Markram and Dean Elgar saw off the new ball on a flat pitch after Faf du Plessis won the toss, the former playing a couple of exquisite off drives when the expensive Mohammed Shami over-pitched after runs had been hard to come by. What I got from the groundsman was that it was burnt from the heat.

Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha was ruled out due to a strain and Parthiv Patel was included in his place.

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Yet the tourists' position would have been far weaker if not for their captain, who faced 130 deliveries and will resume on Monday in the company of Hardik Pandya (11 not out). In Centurion, the groundsmen served on a platter a pitch that was not so different from what they'd expect to find back home.

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