Virat Kohli looked in ominous form as India sort to assert themselves on the second day of this second Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and India, with the tourists reaching tea on 80/2
Kohli, still seeking a substantial contribution in this series, looked to dominate from the first ball he faced, hoping to give his team the advantage on a pitch that is virtually the complete opposite of the one that was played on at Newlands a week ago.
After bowling South Africa out for 335 shortly before lunch on Sunday, Kohli will believe India can get some control back in his team’s direction if he can bat for the remainder of the day.
India had started carefully against Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander with the momentum in the afternoon’s session changing in the 10th over when two wickets fell.
Morkel got KL Rahul, brought into the side in place of Shikhar Dhawan, too play a touch earlier then he’d wanted with the opener pushing the ball straight back to the bowler after making 10.
Off the next ball, debutant Lungi Ngidi, produced an inspired run out, when he gathered the ball at mid-on and despite slipping and with just one stump to aim at, ran out the resolute Cheteshwar Pujara.
Kohli came to the crease amidst that mini-frenzy and punched his first ball straight mid-off off the middle of his bat. Kohli had spoken about intent in the lead-up and although that first shot was a defensive one and didn’t score him a run, the intent was clear.
He sought to put the South Africans under pressure and although Ngidi bowled an excellent spell from the Hennops River End, Kohli never looked overly troubled.
He played a beautiful cover drive off Kagiso Rabada, in what was an invigorating mini battle, while at the other end Murali Vijay played solidly, to keep the South Africans bowlers out.
At the interval, Kohli had reached 39, having struck six fours, while Vijay was not out on 31, having faced 94 balls and struck four boundaries.
South Africa’s first innings featured half-centuries from Aiden Markram (94), Hashim Amla (82) and skipper Faf du Plessis (63), and although par for this ground historically, will have been a disappointing outcome given the hosts were 246/3 on Saturday afternoon.
Ravi Ashwin and Ishant Sharma were the two outstanding bowlers for the Indians; with the off-spinner picking up 4/113 in 38.5 overs, while Sharma, who replaced Bhuvneshwar Kumar, claimed 3/46 in 22 overs.