India vs South Africa | Talking points from Day 2 of Johannesburg Test

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India vs South Africa | Talking points from Day 2 of Johannesburg Test

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Bastab K Parida

01/25/2018

At the end of the Day 2 of the Johannesburg Test, India took a 42-run lead in their second innings in what was arguably their best day on the tour so far. Jasprit Bumrah picked up his first Test fifer and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took three wickets to restricts the hosts to just 194 in the first innings.

Brief scores: India 187 (Virat Kohli 54, Cheteshwar Pujara 50; Kagiso Rabada 3/39, Andile Phehlukwayo 2/25) & 49/1 (KL Rahul 16*, Parthiv Patel 16; Vernon Philander 1/11) lead South Africa 194 (Hashim Amla 61, Vernon Philander 35; Jasprit Bumrah 5/54; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/44) by 42 runs.

De Kock continues to be a worry in South Africa’s long-term plans

While most of the South African batsmen, apart from AB de Villiers, failed to make any significant contributions in the series so far, one man who will find himself under tremendous pressure is Quinton de Kock. However, the lean patch has not only been the result of India’s brilliant bowling performance and rather something, stretching back several months and the wicket-keeper’s last significant Test performance was 68 in the first innings against England in Nottingham in July. 

However, after returning to the lower-down the order, he has been a spectacular failure and in his last 13 innings, he is yet to score a 50. His natural aggression and instinctive style of play have been largely tamed after his continuous promotion and demotion in the order which is not at all a good sign for the hosts at the moment – especially with Australia licking their lips with one of their finest bowling unit in their history. 

In the ongoing series, India’s plans were successful in not allowing de Kock to unleash his destructive self – in the first two Tests it was Ashwin who built the pressure more on the left-hander – and the Indian pacers today followed the set template of bowling at the corridor of uncertainty. After Bhuvneshwar Kumar troubled him by bowling mostly at good length, and Jasprit Bumrah capitalised on that and kept bowling at a good length area. The ball that angled across straightened a bit and while de Kock went for a full-blooded off-drive, got a thick inside edge and Parthiv Patel ran to his right to complete the catch. The lack of confidence in de Kock’s approach was evident and is surely not a thing that the Proteas fans wish for. 

Hashim Amla teaches how to bat on this type of wicket

Hashim Amla is a picture of calm and at the same time, he can be a huge confidence destroyer due to his ability to effectively shift gears. Starting the batting on a treacherous surface, he looked more comfortable than anyone has on this pitch with extravagant bounce, movement in the air, and seam movement.

While Indian bowlers tried to bowl more full balls in the first session of the wicket, Amla usually shuffled across the stumps, and his exaggerated movement helped him big time in getting close to seaming balls and gaining greater access to the on-side field set. His Steve Smith-esque forward movement helped him punch Mohammed Shami through square leg for three. By moving forward, the 35-year-old negated the chance of getting a edge on the away-swinging balls to an extent and made sure that the LBW appeal was almost negated as well. Amla also decided to take his position outside of the crease and when balls hit him on the pad, more often than not, the impact was top of the stumps, helping him survive Indian bowlers - especially Bumrah and Ishant. He managed to flick the on-the-pads incoming balls and made sure that South Africa took a seven-run lead at the end of the first innings. 

Bhuvneshwar shows what was missed in Centurion

When India decided to trade Bhuvneshwar Kumar for Ishant Sharma in the second Test in Centurion, it raised many eyebrows and fans took to social media to slam the Indian team management left, right, centre. When Indian bowlers failed to take wickets in the middle part of South Africa’s second innings in that Test, giving the hosts some easy runs despite the wicket having enough pace and bounce, everyone and their pet dog missed him big-time. 

However, for the third Test, reality struck Kohli, albeit a bit late, and he recalled his best pacer from the Cape Town Test to the playing XI at the expense of Ravichandran Ashwin and the bowler vindicated his selection in his own style. 

After dismissing Aiden Markram on the first day, Bhuvi bowled with panache in the second day running and ended Dean Elgar’s painstaking 40-ball stay in the middle by extracting a thin edge. With Amla being the picture of calm in the middle, Bhuvneshwar decided to keep a nagging line and mixed the outswingers and inswingers to frustrate de Villiers, who seemed unconvincing from the first ball he faced off Ishant at the other end. The one that castled the former South African skipper was one for sore eyes. 

While Bumrah decided to step up to the plate and picked up his first fifer in Tests, it would be criminal of him if he doesn’t credit his senior pro for the same. The Meerut-born player was the main threat and the Indian batsmen should credit him, as well, for keeping them alive in the match.

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