Proteas pick up two wickets in productive afternoon session of second Test
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Stuart Hess at Imperial Wanderers
KL Rahul’s battling half-century kept Indian heads above water as South Africa continued to dominate the opening day of the second Test at the Wanderers on Monday.
India reached 146/5 at tea with Rishabh Pant on 13 and Ravi Ashwin on 24
It had been a gruelling session with neither side willing to budge on a surface that was noticeably quicker than in the morning. South Africa continued to apply pressure after taking a couple of wickets leading up to tea, and Rahul and Hanuma Vihari were made to work for their runs.
The Proteas may look back and a feel they weren’t as consistent with their lengths as had been the case in the second hour of the morning’s play when they picked up three wickets.
Vihari survived a chance on 9, when he cut a short ball from Ngidi straight to Temba Bavuma at point, but the opportunity, unusually given the fielder, was missed. Rahul and Vihari added 42 runs for the fourth wicket in 15 overs, before Vihari was dismissed thanks to a sublime catch at short leg by Rassie van der Dussen.
Kagiso Rabada, largely inconsistent throughout the day, got one to bounce a bit more at Vihari, who in trying to fend off the ball, got an inside edge which thudded into his thigh, and looped up high away from the fielder. Van Der Dussen moved quickly to his left however, and threw out a hand, snapping up the ball much to Rabada’s delight.
Vihari, who replaced Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who has upper back spasms, made 20 off 53 balls.
Rahul once again fought hard showing patience and toughness, with the odd elegantly struck boundary thrown in as well. He reached a 13th Test half-century, but shortly after doing so, was out to a poorly executed pull shot , giving Marco Jansen his second wicket, with Rabada taking a good catch coming off the fine leg boundary.
It’s not the first time in the series that Rahul has looked uncomfortable playing the pull shot in the series and South Africa tested him out on that shot a few times on Monday before getting the reward. Rahul’s stay at the crease lasted 215 minutes in which he faced 133 balls and hit nine fours.
South Africa were a little loose after that, and the coaching staff will no doubt remind the home team’s players that dismissing India for under 250 must be a priority, especially if the surface starts to break up on days four and five.