Shardul Thakur strikes as India claim honours in first session
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Stuart Hess at Imperial Wanderers
Day 2 LUNCH
Johannesburg - Shardul Thakur struck three critical vows before the lunch break as India’s endeavour throughout the morning earned due reward in the second Test against South Africa here on Tuesday.
Dean Elgar and Keegan Petersen, showed great determination and in Petersen’s case elegant technique to keep India at bay for 90 minutes in the session. But then Shakur, a bustling, medium pacer, who doesn’t appear as threatening as the rest of the tourists' impressive attack, turned the morning his side’s way.
At lunch with the dismissal of Rassie van der Dussen to a superb delivery that seamed back into the right hander, South Africa was 102/4, with Temba Bavuma, still to score, set to resume after the interval with Kyle Verreynne. South Africa had lost three wickets for 14 runs in 35 balls in the 30 minutes.
Until then Elgar and Petersen were gradually putting them in a good position.
Petersen was outstanding, and his textbook technique was prominent especially his forward defence. He was the first of the South African pair to push along the scoring, with some punchy drives through the covers and lovely flicks off his legs when India erred with their lengths.
Elgar was in one of those modes where he seems to revel in the fact that he wasn’t scoring. Block, leave, block, play and miss, block again and leave again. It’s not pretty viewing. It’s not supposed to be, but in doing what he said the South African openers needed to do - blunt the new ball - it was might effective. And it started irritating the Indians. Mohammed Siraj, who bowled a sublime spell at Elgar on Monday evening, threw a few choice words Elgar’s way on Tuesday, as the South African captain let another ball go passed him.
There was good fortune, which there needs to be on this surface, which is not as spiteful as the track these two teams played on in 2018 and which led to the Wanderers getting sanctioned by the ICC, but it is tricky and bowlers know that they are always in the game.
One such moment of good fortune came in the 26th over when India appealed for a caught behind, with Allahudien Palekar, asking for the replays to check, and given a soft signal of ‘out.’ Those replays showed however that, the ball had hit the ground and the TV official Adrian Holdstock, overruled the soft signal.
Elgar, who took 48 balls to move off 11, had just started opening up, hitting a couple of boundaries off Ravi Ashwin and Thakur, when those fiddling outside his off-stump finally caught up with him. Shakur had been angling the ball across him, the delivery that dismissed him, bounced a touch more than the others but Elgar should have left it alone, instead he pushed at it, and edged the ball through to Rishbah Pant.
Elgar’s 28, was scored in 170 minutes in which he faced 120 balls and hit four fours.
Petersen went to a maiden Test 50, a deserved milestone, but after reaching it, he seemed to get a little loose. There were a trio of boundaries off Mohammed Shami, including the shot of the innings a cover drive for four. But those shots almost seemed to make him too confident, and Shami beat him a couple of more times in his following over. Then Thakur hung one wide of off-stump, inviting a drive, with Petersen chasing the ball and edging through to KL Rahul at second slip. Petersen’s 62, took four minutes short of three hours and included nine fours off 118 balls.
Van der Dussen followed shortly afterwards, and replays suggested that the ball bounced in front of Pant. However, Van der Dussen had already walked off the field, and neither umpire, asked for the TV official to have a look. India was the team far more likely to enjoy their lunch. They have a 100-run lead.