India vs South Africa | Talking points from Day 3 of Centurion Test

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India vs South Africa | Talking points from Day 3 of Centurion Test

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Bastab K Parida


Sudden rain in Pretoria played spoilsport on the third day of the second Test but South Africa have already moved to a strong position with an effective lead of 118 runs. However, the day’s honours went to Virat Kohli, who waged a lone battle to guide India to a total of 307 runs.

Brief Scores: South Africa 335 & 90/2 (AB de Villiers 50*, Dean Elgar 36; Jasprit Bumrah 2-19) lead India 307 (Virat Kohli 153, Murali Vijay 46; Morne Morkel 4-60, Vernon Philander 1/46) by 88 runs.

Virat Kohli – a sublime artist 

Amidst the triggered national outrage of a “flat-track bully” and “Careless offers on outside the off-stumps”, Virat Kohli’s innings against South Africa was of the kind that left people breathless, as well as speechless. The course of the match potentially depended on the Indian skipper and he stuck to his belief and came out on top.

Kohli began the day looking comfortable against the pace of Lungi Ngidi and then Kagiso Rabada from one end and the swing of Vernon Philander, bowling with the keeper up to the stumps, at the other. However, Rabada, bowling with fire and brimstone, bowled those ferocious bouncers and away-swingers, and then Kohli didn’t have any other way than leaving it. To counter the wide balls outside the off stump, one either needs to leave the balls alone or get as close to them as possible and Kohli today went after these balls to get going. He also didn’t leave any clue for the opposition to understand his tactics as he eliminated his trigger movement completely from time to time and stayed inside the line a lot to work the ball on both sides of the pitch. When the ball was overpitched, the 29-year-old stretched to drive and flicked all balls on the pads. All the middle and lower order batsmen, mostly Hardik Pandya, benefitted from Kohli to even audaciously walk across the stumps to a predicted away seamer. Talk about intent. Talk about determination. 

Attack is the best form of defense

The varying bounce had been apparent even on Day 2 of this Test match and when AB de Villiers came out to bat today, South Africa had already lost two wickets for just 3 runs. But the talisman made his intentions clear by reverse-sweeping Ashwin and soon the boundaries began to flow, and the runs that were hard to come by, came flooding in. Although Bumrah, with his exaggerated angle into the right-hander, accentuated the effect of this low bounce, ABD, playing with a straight bat, managed to stay clear of that and found boundaries easy to come by. 

In India’s innings as well, Ashwin, coming to bat after the dismissal of Pandya, was greeted to the crease by an awkwardly rising ball which hit him on the index finger of his right hand. If that was not enough, the World No.1 pacer bowled another bouncer, but that was the last time Rabada had fun against the Indian. Ashwin responded by going after the pacer in his next over hitting three fours through the off side, all hit on the up. On a wicket, where Pandya uncharacteristically batted with caution, Ashwin was in a different mould all together and frustrated the South African batsman for a good amount of time. 

Highveld rain suddenly arrives

The Highveld is the portion of South Africa’s plateau region which has an altitude above roughly 1500 m to 2100 m and that’s why, it excludes the Lesotho mountain regions to the south-east of the Highveld. Due to being on a high altitude, the condensed atmospheric air passes on the top it when the region’s pressure difference becomes minimal. And that was the big reason why clouds become mobile giving a passing shower or two to the region. While many would be wondering how the cloud suddenly appeared when there was no prediction for the same, it was the mobile clouds in the middle of Bushveld and Highveld that resulted in a heavy shower. But kudos should be given to both umpires and ground staff for the match’s resumption within no time. While umpires asked for covers with immediate effect, saving the wicket from undergoing watering, ground staff also immediately made the outfield play-worthy at the earliest.

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