Close of play: And it’s time to draw the stumps for us here at The Field as well. Two days of absolutely fantastic Test cricket. What does day three hold? Remember, South Africa are still ahead by a fair distance. Join Ashish, Kushal, Anand and I as we bring the action from Newlands tomorrow.

STUMPS: South Africa finish day two on 65/2, ahead by 142 runs. A day of absorbing Test cricket, not at a breakneck pace as on day one. A day of attrition and attack. A day that belonged to Hardik Pandya. A day that South Africa, everything said and done, will finish comfortably ahead in the scheme of things.

After 19 overs, South Africa 65/2: Surprisingly (or is it? *wink*) Ashwin gets just one over. Attempts at jokes apart, this is bizarre from Kohli. With a tail-end batsman at the crease, and time running out, Ashwin should have been kept from one end surely? But no, Shami comes in and bowls a decent over where Rabada keeps Amla away from strike. Bhuvi from the other end bowls a good over to Amla. End of play imminent now.

After 17 overs, South Africa 59/2: And another one for Pandya and it’s not the nightwatchman Rabada – it’s the well-set opener Elgar instead. This is a beautiful delivery, pitches just outside offstump and deviates away slightly, taking the outside edge. About 15 minutes to go for close of play and India have pulled themselves back into this match.

And Hardik Pandya scoring runs and taking wickets on Kapil Dev’s birthday to make things hard (or, perhaps in some cases, too easy) for cricket writers. What a day though!

After 15 overs, South Africa 52/1: And out of nowhere, India have a breakthrough. Pandya lands it on a good length, but this perhaps bounced just a little more? Hard to tell. Anyway, it’s a flick-cum-push-cum-jab and the leading edge goes to Bhuvi at point.

After 13 overs, South Africa 40/0: Shami and Pandya are bowling in tandem now as we come to the official close of play (not even close to being done though, still about 12 overs remaining). Michael Holding, on air, feels that this is now a slog for the Indian bowlers, who are not creating chances. All too comfortable for the South African openers.

After 9 overs, South Africa 26/0: The pitch has definitely eased out. Bumrah and Bhuvi are not bowling badly, but since the first 3-4 overs, even the half chances have dried up. Markram, who went gung ho early on and just about cleared the slip cordon with a flashy drive, has played some scintillating off and on drives since. He has moved to a quickfire 23, while Elgar is on 3 off 24 balls - quite circumspect.

Time for Shami... who has not had a Test to remember.

After 5 overs, South Africa 13/0: Markram has played one nice cover drive, but has looked a bit suspect against the full ball that nips back in. Elgar is continuing to struggle at the balls angling past him but he is hanging on. No exaggerated movement with the new ball for either Indian bowler though, so South Africa would do well to see this off.

South Africa innings underway, 2/0 after 2 overs: Bhuvneshwar and, surprisingly, Bumrah are opening the bowling for India. Perhaps down to Shami’s efforts in the first innings? Bhuvi starts off steady as ever, with one too-close-for-comfort leave from Markram. It’s a maiden over. Bumrah is off to an impressive start, troubling Dean Elgar. He should have been gone for a pair but Shami drops a catch running back from midwicket. (Harsh, perhaps, but that was a drop in my book, since he got to the ball.)

Innings break: A word (and much more, eventually) for Hardik Pandya. His strike rate of 97.89 (with 14 fours and a six) shouldn’t hide the fact that this was a mature innings where he let go of good balls, rotated strike when he had to and recalibrated after his reprieve against Keshav Maharaj. He might have a century to his name against Sri Lanka but this was an innings where he came of age in Test cricket.

Data check by Anand Katakam: Hardik Pandya scored the eleventh highest individual score away from home for a number 7 Indian batsman. Only Kapil Dev has repeated this feat more than once. The Haryana Hurricane did it four times.

India all out for 209, trail by 77 runs: Shami and Bumrah wafted, shovelled, swayed, ducked, swung but South Africa finally put an end to India’s innings. Rabada deservingly gets his 3rd, but India will come out to bowl with a spring in their step. This could have been much, much worse.

After 73 overs, India 209/9: Every ball that Bumrah and Shami face now will add to the immense frustration of South Africa’s bowlers. The pair have now faced a little over three overs together, adding 10 runs, reducing the deficit to 77.

After 70 overs, India 200/9: And finally Hardik Pandya falls. Rabada has struck a telling blow and that short-pitched strategy has worked. This is another short ball from around the wicket angled across, and an attempted ramp short takes a faint edge to the keeper. Faf, like is usual these days, gives Rabada a kiss on the forehead.

But what a fantastic innings this has been. One of those innings that will be remembered years later as well. (And replayed many times on television presumably). Super stuff, Hardik. Answered many a question today.

After 68 overs, India 192/8: What an eventful over from Rabada to Pandya! He goes around the wicket too, and tries to bounce Pandya out. Second ball almost hits Pandya on the head outside leg stump, third ball flies over head-high for QdK, fourth ball smashes into Pandya’s midriff – he’s all smiles despite that painful blow. And takes a single off the last ball. Wonderful stuff.

After 67 overs, India 191/8: The live bloggers curse? Is that a thing? Well, all the same, Bhuvi is gone now, fishing outside off stump against Morkel, who has kept chugging away. This ends a 99-run partnership – the 7th highest 8th wicket partnership outside subcontinent of all time for India. Great effort.

After 66 overs, India 190/7: Unlike the post-lunch session, India have not lost wickets in a hurry after the break. Slow going so far, with Kumar taking more of the strike – the partnership is getting close to a 100 now.

After 63 overs, India 185/7: Maharaj and Morkel start off proceedings. Morkel straight away goes around the wicket to Pandya with a leg-side field, targets him on the ribs. Pandya tries to pull by walking across but misses it completely. Would do well not to fall for the trap.

Another update on Steyn: The commentators just informed the pacer has in fact gone for a scan on his heel, it’s not just a shoe issue apparently. This is not good news for South Africa.

Back for the final session: Dale Steyn had walked off towards the end of the second session, but the update is that he is not injured or anything - was just a shoe issue. Maharaj to start things off.

Tea time at Newlands, India 185/7: 25 overs, 109 runs and 3 wickets. A run-rate of 4.36. An unbroken 93-run partnership between Hardik and Bhuvi has brought India to a position of decent strength. South Africa will rue the dropped catch and missed stumping, but don’t let that get in the way of what has been a fantastic innings by Hardik Pandya so far.

Be back for the final session soon.

Analysis: A wagon wheel that tells you Hardik Pandya is as dynamic a strokeplayer as any in this Indian side.

Meanwhile, Ashish Magotra:

Stunning session for India with Pandya and Bhuvi leading the unexpected (for me at least) fightback. Pandya has led a charmed life – two lives – once on 15 and then again on 71 – but in between he has put SA on the backfoot. SA will rue those chances and India trail by just 101 runs now. 

After 60 overs, India 180/7: This partnership has now officially put South Africa under the pump. Yes, they still lead by 100-plus runs but their line and lengths have gone awry. The bowlers are spraying it around, the fielders have spread out, but the boundaries are still coming. Bhuvi, especially, is getting into a zone where he is middling the ball well - a special cover drive off Steyn, the stand out shot. Partnership is 88. Great stuff.

After 56 overs, India 165/7: Faf throws the ball to Keshav Maharaj for the first time, hoping to tempt Pandya and it was almost a great ploy. Pandya hits the second ball for a six (who didn’t see that coming?) and the next ball he steps down again, completely misses the turn and bounce on the ball, but de Kock is done in by the bounce and can’t complete a stumping – SECOND LIFE FOR PANDYA on 71.

Meanwhile, here’s Kushal Phatarpekar on what has been a fantastic knock so far from Hardik.

His technique is not ideal, but Pandya showed the way how his teammates could have batted on day two. South Africa’s batsmen had demonstrated that blocking was not a great ploy on a wicket that not only has pace and bounce, but also lateral movement. ABD and Faf batted aggressively, despite their team having lost three early wickets. If you expected India to follow a similar strategy when they resumed their innings at 28/3, Rohit and Pujara adopted a “block everything” policy. 

The floodgates opened after lunch and soon enough India were four down. Pandya, though, has so far turned out to be the only India batsman to have taken a leaf out of de villiers’ book. He came out flashing and even came down the track and dispatched Vernon Philander for a boundary. Till that point, Philander had looked impervious. 

Pandya, however, was unfazed by such modalities. His counter-attacking ways could prove crucial as India look to reduce the deficit. More importantly, this should do wonders to India’s confidence which must have been abysmally low as their middle order collapsed. 

Kohli and the team-management would be praying he converts this 50 into a 100.   

After 54 overs, India 145/7: Fifty partnership and what a crucial one. This has come at a very crucial time for India and Bhuvi has contributed 2 runs to it – very crucial. Pandya pulls Morkel for his 12th boundary. A controlled shot. He’s not just hitting every ball, he’s also defending the balls that need to be defended – a mature innings by all accounts.

After 52 overs, India 131/7: Take a bow, Hardik Pandya. India still in big trouble but a 46-ball fifty under such circumstances is a fine, fine effort. Gets there with the most Pandya-esque shot, moving down the track and swatting over mid off on one leg.

After 51 overs, India 127/7: Pandya continuing to do Pandya things. Of Morkel’s over, gets two more boundaries – one of them a ramp shot over the keeper and the next, a punch through cover point. He moves on to 47 off 43 balls. Bhuvi meanwhile is yet to get off the mark after 30 balls but is beginning to chase some wide balls now – would do well to remain patient and give Pandya some company.

Analysis: In one hour after lunch, the Indian team has come a cropper. Should we be surprised though? Ashish Magotra says don’t be:

Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri had us fooled. They spoke about the perfect preparation, they spoke of intent, they spoke about having no fear and about technique. They spoke about this, they spoke about that. They spoke and spoke and spoke. So much so that you started thinking that maybe they had something up their sleeves. 

But frankly, the warning signs were all there. It happened against Australia in Chennai, in the T20 game against the same opponents in Guwahati, in the T20 match against Sri Lanka in Pune last year. 

It didn’t end there. In Kolkata, on a seaming track, Kohli & Co stumbled badly against a Sri Lankan attack that had just one good bowler. In Dharamsala, on a seaming track, the team stumbled again... against the same bowler.

If it seamed, India was in trouble. If it swung, India was in bigger trouble. The top order was clearly vulnerable. For all the false bravado, they had their doubts and didn’t trust their technique enough. 

Then, India decided to not arrive in South Africa early enough to practice or play enough tour games.

This team knows what the problems are and they might even get better as the series goes on but it will only show that they needed to spend more time in SA before the Test series began.

By failing to prepare, they have prepared to fail. It shouldn’t surprise them, it shouldn’t surprise us either.

DRINKS: After 48 overs, India 111/7: Pandya continues to find the boundaries, he has now moved on to 36 off 34 balls – with 7 boundaries, the latest being a drive through the covers – the highest score of India’s innings. Bhuvi yet to get off the mark after 21 balls – but handling himself well against Rabada and Morkel. (Remember he was one of India’s best batsman on their wretched tour of England)

After 44 overs, India are 104/7: Since that dropped catch, Pandya has teed off. The most economical bowler today has been Philander and Pandya smashes him for 3 boundaries in one over - all clean strikes.

India have avoided the follow on, crossed 100 – significant milestones to be honest.

Ashish Magotra says:

Pandya starting to play some shots. Precisely why he needed to come out ahead of Ashwin. Of course, he is still lucky to be there. But still... this is something    

After 42 overs, India 92/7: Aannnnnd one more! Saha is gone shouldering arms to Dale Steyn. Oh dear, oh dear. He has pre-meditated this leave, and the ball is on the line of the stumps, moving back in and crashes on to the back foot. Just before that, Elgar dropped Pandya at gully – Hardik is going for his shots, has hit three boundaries.

After 39 overs, India 81/6: And now Ashwin’s gone. Third wicket for Philander and once again it’s that channel outside offstump – the ball is moving away and Ashwin, on the front foot, edges it behind where de Kock takes a sensational diving catch. It’s all unravelling for India post-lunch.

Analysis: Anand Katakam on Pujara’s odd decision to play at one of the widest deliveries he has faced this morning:

Pujara has been relatively careful about playing outside the off-stump. One of the widest balls he’s faced the entire innings. Admittedly the deviation of the ball was 45 cm after it hitting the pitch, which probably stumped the Saurashtra batsman.   

After 38 overs, India 81/5: End of Pandya’s innings? No, not just yet. He’s given out off an absolute ‘jaffa’ from Steyn, who gets it to straighten from the offstump, but Pandya reviews it and it came off the thigh pad. What an over though, Pandya a bit clueless.

After 37 overs, India 80/5 - PUJARA GONE! Oh dear, horror start for India. Philander strikes first ball after lunch. This is a ball that Pujara has been leaving all morning. It lands just outside offstump and moves considerably away (hit a crack?) but Pujara just follows it and the edge is taken by Faf at slips. Pandya walks in and edges the first ball through slips for four.

As the second session is about to start, here’s some nostalgia for you cricket fans.

Lunch-time discussion: Pujara, as always, has been a study of concentration. His defence has been solid, he has rarely been beaten and there was just one lose shot – an edge to third man for four. A look at the wagon wheel tells a story – he is all too happy to leave, knows where his off stump is and the moment it was on the stumps. he flicked.

Courtesy: BCCI

Some comments from our readers, do send in yours at

The South Africans are bowling well today. But I think it was very poor batting display from India’s top three yesterday that hurt India more.

— Argha Ghosh

Shastri and Kohli should have been more pragmatic last night by sending a night watchman. It’s one thing sitting in comm box with Ian Chappell, joking against night watchman, quite another actually taking a real decision.

— Sandeep Kumar

The lack of preparation on fast pitches is showing. Dhawan was late into his shot, came off the top of half of his bat. The same with Rohit Sharma.

— Anuj Sinha

After 36 overs, India 76/4 - LUNCH: After the breakneck pace of the first day, it was 25 overs of attrition for 48 runs on the first session on the second. But, equally absorbing as day one, make no mistake. The ebbs and flows of Test cricket, eh? Gotta love it. Steyn comes back into the attack for a two-over spell and goes short-short at Ashwin, but he survives.

Analysis: Look at the beehive of where South Africa have targeted the Indian batsmen – a major cluster on the fourth stump.

Courtesy: BCCI

After 32 overs, India 68/4: Ashwin is looking to play his shots but finding the fielders for now. Just manages to find the boundary with an uppish flick through square leg off Morkel. He’s moved on to 10 off 14 balls. The commentators, meanwhile, are discussing Pujara’s approach. A bit too slow, Holding thinks. Agree?

Meanwhile, Kushal Phatarpekar chips in with his thoughts on the South African pacers:

If not Steyn, then Philander, if not him then Morkel and now Rabada. Four pacers, four wickets. If South Africa’s pace battery looked daunting on paper, India have quickly realised they are quite fierce on the field as well. It took some time coming, but Rabada’s entry late into the morning session on day two, gave the hosts their fourth wicket. Bowling at around 145 kmph with nearly every ball, Rabada sent back Rohit, who put in a dogged effort this morning to limp towards 11 off 59 deliveries.

All four of SA’s pacers have contributed with a wicket apiece now. Just when Pujara and Rohit looked to have settled down, Morkel was introduced into the attack. And Rabada has delivered a timely strike. Rohit and Pujara was India’s last reliable batting pair. A fourth fast bowler, bowling at a few clicks faster than his fellow pacers proved just one too many for Rohit.  

After 29 overs, India 61/4: Rabada, you beauty. Just as we had said last over, Rabada is breathing fire and gets the breakthrough. This is again full and fast and just moving in a bit, Rohit is stuck on his front foot and is a bit late to the shot – that tends to happen when the red cherry is hurtling at you – and he is plumb in front. Reviews it, but it’s three reds. Dead duck.

Ashwin walks in and gets hit on the thumb first ball. Lengthy break and then a bouncer follows, he gloves it between keeper and leg slip. Incredible over.

As Ashish Magotra says: If Dale won’t get you, Philander will, if Philander won’t get you, Morkel will, if Morkel won’t get you, Rabada will. Play on repeat.

Comment from a reader, Clive Azavedo:

The battle between Philander and Rohit/Pujara has been phenomenal. Philander not giving away anything by keeping it outside off and the Indian batsman not going for it, each looking for the other to make a mistake first.

Test Cricket at it’s best.   

After 28 overs, India 57/3: WHAT AN OVER, Rabada. This is fast, this is fiery, this is testing Rohit Sharma. And he’s doing well. Two caught behind appeals in that over (one on the off, one on the leg side) and both were just half-hearted. But Rabada’s pace is causing problems.

And once again, the one ball that Morkel strays on the pads in the next over, Pujara flicks fine for four. He’s a man on a mission, eh?

After 26 overs, India 49/3: Morkel and Rabada bowling in tandem now and they start with a maiden over each since the drinks break. And just like he has done all morning, the moment he gets one on his pads, Pujara flicks to square leg for four. Of the 15 he has score, just one run on the offside!

After 23 overs, India 45/3: 3 runs from Morkel’s over as a bouncer is gloved to fine leg by Rohit. And Philander continues from the other end and concedes his first run of the day! It’s a tight single too, with Pujara tapping to point and Rohit on his heels. Makes it easily

Incredible. 6 overs, 5 maidens, 1 run.

Drinks at Newlands, here’s Ashish Magotra with his take on an absorbing first hour:

Today so far: 13 overs, 17 runs, 0 wickets. The only number that should matter for India is the 0 in the wickets column. It has been a cautious start but it has also been the start India would have wanted. This will calm the nerves in the dressing room and allow the lower order to feel that little bit more confident. Important when you consider that India has no one else to fall back on.

South Africa have now introduced Morne Morkel into the attack in place of Dale Steyn but loose deliveries will remain at a premium. At some point, India will have to start thinking about the runs but for now, the team will be well served if they can start rotating the strike a bit more.  

After 21 overs, India 41/3: Another boundary for Pujara off Steyn and you’d think that’s the last over for him in this spell. This was on the pads again, flicked fine for four. And Philander with another maiden over to Rohit from the other end. More of the same.

First change: Morkel into the attack. If India are looking for respite, they are unlikely to get it.

Analysis: This was Philander’s over to Rohit where he had the Mumbaikar in all sorts of trouble. Impeccable line and length.

After 19 overs, India 37/3: Pujara gets the first boundary of the day – Steyn errs in line, gets closer to the stumps and angles in to the pads, Pujara just touches it on to square leg for four. But it was a fiery over from Steyn – couple of 140 kph bouncers that Pujara leaves with aplomb. Great to watch.

And what a over by Philander from the other end. Rohit gets beaten thrice in that over – all three of them good length balls, shaping away. The second ball was an absolute peach – he went just wide of the crease, angled it in and made it straighten. Rohit was all smiles after that. How did it miss? But that’s what good batsmen do – move on after a ball like that.

After 17 overs, India 33/3: And we are back to regular business. Philander gets a shot at Rohit for the first time this morning and it’s a maiden again.

Early observations: The carry is still good, the pace is still there, but there is no lateral movement on show yet for two of the best swing bowlers in the South Africa side.

After 16 overs, India 33/3: HUZZAH, first runs of the day! Rohit Sharma gets a couple after a misfield at point and follows that up with a good looking punch through point for three. Zero runs from the first four, five from the fifth. That also means they’ll now face different bowlers for the first time today.

After 15 overs, India 28/3: A lengthy break in play as Pujara gets his bat looked at, followed by the fourth maiden over of the morning. More of the same from Philander, more of the same from Pujara. One ball in that over reared up from good length, hit ChePu on the gloves, but did not lob up.

Data check: This is how India’s top order and middle order have performed over the years in South Africa. The onus is again on the middle order today.

Ind 28-3 after 14 overs: Third maidens in a row. Steyn maintaining a terrific line to Rohit. The Indian batsmen must be careful to not get stuck at one end. It will allow the bowlers to work them over. Instead, they must always be on the lookout for the odd single.

Ind 28-3 after 13 overs: Another solid over for India. Pujara leaving the ball very well, against Philander, he will need to do a lot of that. A maiden but India won’t mind that. The first hour is vital.

The table below gives an idea of how the numbers are stacked against India in SA:

Ind 28-3 after 12 overs: Good shape for Steyn and Rohit Sharma played him with a nice, solid straight bat. It almost seems odd to see Rohit leave the ball too. Still, India is through the first over without losing a wicket. Whew!

01:48 pm: If India need a dose of confidence today, they just need to watch the Sachin Tendulkar-Mohd Azahruddin partnership at Cape Town in 1997. India were reduced to 58-5, then this happened:


01:41 pm: Big day for Rohit Sharma in particular. He was picked at the expense of Ajinkya Rahane, who is one of India’s best batsmen away from home. The Mumbai batsmen would have had a tough time sleeping last night. He will need to make up his mind about how he wants to play – if he wants to play like AB, he should... without any fear of failure. Getting caught in two minds is probably the worst thing one can do in these conditions.

Shaun Pollock: South Africa are ahead by a head. The reason for that is wicket of Kohli that they got last night. We have seen Rohit’s exploits in one-day cricket and you don’t have to get that massive stride in because of the bounce. But you have to get your eye in before you do that. He can do an AB but it won’t be easy.

01:26 pm: “It is important to leave the ball well, especially overseas. Once you move out of Asia, there is enough bounce in the pitches and that is the reason one should be able to leave the ball,” Pujara had said after a practice session a few days back. He will need to do a lot of that today if India are to get anywhere close to the South African total.

01:15 pm: What should India’s approach today be? Should they take a leaf out AB de Villiers’ notebook? Chetan Narula writes from Cape Town on what was a special, special knock by ABD.

01:10 pm: As we wait for the cricket to start, here’s some analysis of what transpired on day one. First up, Kushal Phatarpekar, on Bhuvneshwar’s star turn and how he was let down by the rest of the bowling lineup.

Read the whole article here:

While, Bhuvneshwar’s performance did not differ quite as much from his display at the Eden Gardens, what was different this time around was the lack of support from the other end.

In Kolkata, Bhuvi bowled well in tandem with fellow pacer Mohammed Shami, who had also impressed with a four-for of his own in the first innings.

In Cape Town, other than Bhuvneshwar all other pace options at skipper Virat Kohli’s disposal could contribute with just a wicket apiece. Off-spinner R Ashwin chipped with the last two wickets and a run out.

01:00 pm: Hello and welcome to the live blog of the first Test between India and South Africa. Day two action is upon us and if day one was anything to go by, the action in store promises a lot. We cannot wait, we bet you are excited as well.