Manyank Argawal ducks to avoid a bouncer on day one in Pune. Photo: @BCCI on twitter

JOHANNESBURG – India’s batsmen continued their dominance against South Africa on the opening morning of the second Test in Pune reaching lunch on 77/1.

On a pitch with a green tinge which had more bounce, pace and movement than was the case in the first Test in Visakhapatnam, South Africa’s seam bowlers failed to make proper use of those helpful conditions, with their lines and lengths too inconsistent. As a result they didn’t build enough pressure on the India top order, who’ve given their team a firm platform.

The pitch should ease out through the afternoon, and into day two as well, which will only increase the difficulty of the bowlers’ jobs. 

Virat Kohli once again got the call right at the toss, choosing predictably to bat. The home team made one change to the side that won the opening Test by 203 runs, with Hamun Vihari dropped and seam bowler Umesh Yadav brought in for his 42nd Test.

South Africa also strengthened their seam bowling line-up, giving Anrich Nortje his debut, with off-spinner Dane Piedt, who struggled in Visakhapatnam, dropped. 

While Vernon Philander got the new ball to move both ways off the seam, beating the outside edge of the bat on a number of occasions, the only chance he created, was when he beat the inside edge of Mayank Argwal’s bat, but the appeal for lbw, which was referred to the TV umpire, stayed with the not out decision on the field as the ball hit Argwal marginally outside the line of off-stump. 

The morning’s only wicket went to Kagiso Rabada, who’s best delivery of the series so far, bounced slight more than Rohit Sharma anticipated, found the outside edge with Quinton de Kock taking an easy catch. Following his twin hundreds in the first Test, Sharma managed just 14 on Thursday.

However that wicket didn’t unsettle his opening partner Argawal, who unfurled some beautiful drives especially off Nortje’s bowling. The tall fast bowler from Port Elizabeth, bowled with good pace, but his length was too full allowing the Indian opener to show off both his straight and cover drives. 

South Africa’s bowlers battled to find the right length, either too short, which meant they didn’t find the outside edge of the bat, or too full which allowed the Indians to drive. 

With the exception of Rabada’s second spell, the rest of the time, the South African quicks lacked aggression. 

Argawal went into lunch not out on 34, while Cheteshwar Pujara, who survived a sharp chance to Temba Bavuma when on 0, was on 19. The pair’s partnership so far has been worth 52 runs. 

@shockerhess

 

The Star

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