IND vs SA | Pune Day 2 Talking Points - South Africa's submission and Kohli 'leaves' his way to glory

IND vs SA | Pune Day 2 Talking Points - South Africa's submission and Kohli 'leaves' his way to glory

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If there ever was any hope for South Africa to bounce back or stay alive in the series, it is fair to say that Day 2 in Pune has well and truly shut it down. After Kohli and Jadeja piled misery on the Proteas bowlers, Umesh Yadav ran through their openers to diminish all hope for the visitors.

Virat Kohli “leaves” his way to glory

Highlights packages and montages will show the nonchalant boundaries the Indian skipper struck en route his 254*, but his leaves, and not his scoring shots, were the highlight of his innings. Resuming the Day on 273/3 against a relatively newish ball - a ball that was just 5.1 overs old, to be precise - Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane knew prior to the start of play that jackpot awaited them if they negotiated the first hour without losing a wicket. While Rahane decided to approach it with a slightly more risky yet confident “block the ball” approach, it looked like Kohli walked in trying to keep his bat as far as he could away from the ball and let the shine wear out.

Every outswinger bowled by Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander was being let go by Kohli without second thoughts and every ball that came into him was being negotiated with soft hands, so much so that even when the Proteas bowlers did manage to find his outside edge, the ball fell short of the keeper and the slip fielders. For a brief moment, it felt like we were watching a recap of Steve Smith and Marnus Labucshagne’s exploits in the Ashes and not actually a match between India and South Africa in Pune.

But whilst he was at it, Kohli stayed proactive, kept his eyes open and put the bad balls away to the boundary, not shunning out the runs completely. He realized the potential repercussions of India losing a flurry of early wickets, so was willing to swallow his pride, concede the first hour to the bowlers and then reap the rewards for his patience later on in the innings. Who knows, he might have indeed watched Smith and Labuschagne “leave” their way to glory before he took guard to bat.   

Ravindra Jadeja - As good with the bat as he’s with the ball

Thanks to him being ridiculously good with the ball, Ravindra Jadeja is often undermined with the bat. He is merely looked upon as a #7 or a #8 batter who can steady ship should there be a collapse, or someone who can help the team in situations that demand acceleration with declaration looming. But he is much, much more than that.  In Tests in 2019 alone, Jadeja has scored 317 runs at an average of almost 64 and has amazingly played in both Australia and West Indies. From rescuing the team from a rut to batting with the tail to giving a much-needed lower-order boost, he has done it all, against the likes of Pat Cummins, Kemar Roach and Kagiso Rabada, who are the best of the best. 

In fact, astonishingly, since the start of 2018, only six batsmen have bettered Jadeja’s average of 57.7 and he has scored a majority of these runs on seamer-friendly wickets. Today, yet again, walking in to bat at 376-4, Jadeja showed an impeccable assessment of the situation. First, he ensured that any potential opening for South Africa of getting a look at the lower-order was completely shut down, by scoring just 9 runs off his first 44 deliveries.

Then, he slowly grew into the partnership by picking the occasional boundary, and when the time came to put the foot on the gas, he unleashed his aggressive avatar by scoring 59 runs off his last 34 deliveries. But this is not a one-off occurrence as it’s something Jadeja has ingrained in his batting of late. Similar innings’ were played in Sydney and Antigua earlier this year, innings of dominance where he has outrightly denied the opposition any sniff and has helped India further strangle their hold on the match. With such batting prowess at his disposal, it is clearly understandable why Kohli after all dropped Vihari and opted for the extra bowler in the form of Umesh Yadav.

South Africa’s submission - a pitiable sight

It is never pretty to see teams thrown in the towel in Test matches, at least not as early as the second day. But one partnership today from Kohli and Rahane was all it took for India to shatter South Africa’s hope, confidence and morale as post lunch, it looked like the visitors were more keen on the declaration than the hosts themselves. After managing to score 350 runs in their first 111 overs, India, post lunch, amassed 250 runs in just 45 overs, but more than them taking the attack to the Proteas, it was more of Faf du Plessis and his men giving up despairingly, almost conceding defeat around the time the teams left the field for Tea. 

The last 30 overs of the Indian innings was nothing but a painful formality that was carried out by the South African innings and if anything, they helped India in accelerating their score with their bowling changes and their field settings. As Senuran Muthusamy, Dean Elgar, and Keshav Maharaj hopelessly tossed the ball without any real intent, Kohli and Jadeja toyed with them and struck them to all parts of the ground at their own will. 

Their lack of effort on the field rubbed on their batting too, as both Aiden Markram and Elgar, who were in no mood to come out to bat, were undone by Umesh, who made sure to do the basics right. It’s a shame indeed, as after the first innings in Vizag where they showed courage and grit, it felt like the series might actually head in a different direction. But well, all good things aren’t meant to last, I suppose. 

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