A 64-run partnership for the third wicket between nightwatchman Kagiso Rabada and Hashim Amla, provided South Africa with a solid start to the second day of the final Sunfoil Test with India here on Thursday.
South Africa went to lunch on 81/3 still trailing India by 106 runs on what was another difficult morning for batting. This lively surface, which has assisted by way of seam movement, a deviation off some noticeable cracks was not properly utilised by the Indians, particularly in the second hour of the session.
In the first hour, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the dominant player, as he made excellent use of the help from the surface, leaving Dean Elgar all at sea as the ball, darted about off the pitch.
Elgar, having seen the ball pass his outside edge, more times than he’ll be willing to remember, eventually nicked one to Parthiv Patel off Kumar. It had been a painful 53-minute stay at the crease for the gritty left-hander and his four runs consumed 40 balls.
The trouble for India was that there was little support for Kumar with the remaining members of the seam attack lacking consistency in terms of both line and length allowing the South African batsmen off the hook.
In that first hour, the home team scored just 23 runs, but in the second half of the session, Rabada, playing very much the senior role, and Amla, put on 51 runs in just 11 overs.
There was some adventurous stroke-play from Rabada, particularly once he’d changed his bat in the penultimate over before drinks. Five balls after getting the new ‘stick’ whipped Jasprit Bumrah through midwicket for just the second boundary of that first hour.
After drinks, with his confidence increasing there was some more excellent shot-making the highlight of which was was a lofted cover drive – after he’d shimmied down the track - off India’s best bowler Kumar.
His stay at the crease was ended by a lovely delivery from Ishant Sharma, who angled one across the left-hander, got it to bounce a bit more, with the edge flying to gully where Ajinkya Rahane held a sharp chance.
Rabada’s final score of 30 is probably worth double that given the surface. He spent more than two hours at the crease, faced 84 balls and hit six fours.
Amla, who copped a nasty blow in the ribs just before lunch from Ishant, was unebaten at the break not out on 31 - 52 balls, 5x4 - while AB de Villiers, who missed a big chunk of the last session of the first day’s play with a bruised finger had faced just two balls and was yet to get off the mark.