Ashwin strikes: Two breakthroughs in the 2nd session.
India’s playing XI: Saha out, Parthiv in. Dhawan out, Rahul in. BHUVI out, Ishant in.
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Close of play: Well, what a finish to the day at Supersport Park. Faf du Plessis will want to make it up for his involvement in two run-outs by taking his side to a respectable total on what is, frankly, a good pitch to bat on. Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, but Pandya’s direct hit to remove a well-set Amla was the definitive moment that swung the match in India’s favour.
That’s it from us for the day. Do join us tomorrow for what promises to be another good day of Test cricket.
STUMPS, after 90 overs, South Africa 269/6: What a final session for India! South Africa were cruising. They were 199 for 2 at one point when AB de Villiers chopped it on to the stumps and gave away his wicket to Ishant. Suddenly, Faf du Plessis saw himself involved in two runouts and voila, this has become India’s day at the end. SA are one short of 270 – meaning they fall short of the 3 run-per-over mark.
After 89 overs, SA 266/6: Ashwin bowls an over with the new ball, and it’s an eventful one against Keshav Maharaj with a couple of appeals for LBW and a catch at slip – again, good bounce for Ashwin with the hard new ball. Ishant with the penultimate over of the day and he finds his radar for half the over, and finishes what has been a good day for him.
Bumrah with the last over of the day, a change of ends...
After 87 overs, SA 262/6: In the middle of the 87th over, Kohli takes the new ball with Bumrah back in the attack. Faf meanwhile gets a boundary off Ashwin to release the pressure a bit.
What a turnaround this has been for India as we head to the close of play.
After 83 overs, SA 251/6: Oh boy, oh boy. It’s yet another run-out involving Faf du Plessis. It’s yet another run-out involving Pandya. A short ball once again, Philander fends it off and takes off blindly, Faf is yelling no from the other end but Philander doesn’t care. Big Vern and Faf are at the same end, and the former is run out. What on earth!
(FYI: The new ball has not been taken yet)
After 82 overs, SA 250/5: Wow. JUST WOW. R Ashwin loves bowling to the left handers and boy, does he prove it straight away. Quinton de Kock is gone first ball! The ball turned a tad bit, bounced, took the edge and it’s a straightforward catch to Kohli at slip – he doesn’t drop it and he seems delighted with that.
After 81 overs, SA 250/4: Oh dear, Faf du Plessis. Oh wow, Hardik Pandya. Yet another wicket completely out of the blue. Pandya gets a ball raise on Amla who fends it off well, but has lost his bearings a bit. The ball goes to where the short leg would have been, Faf calls for a quick single, Amla responds immediately. Pandya rushes to the ball, gathers it, turns around and fires a bullet throw. Direct hit and Amla’s gone for 82!
After 78 overs, SA 240/3: Ashwin back into the attack with the new ball due soon.
Here’s Kushal Phatarpekar on perhaps the second biggest talking point of the day, the Centurion pitch.
Other than India’s bemusing selection choices, the wicket seems to be next big talking point. In the lead up to the game, SA skipper Faf du Plessis was bemused at the lack of grass on the track. Kohli too was not too pleased with the brown wicket and hinted at being disappointed during the toss. His ploy to replace Bhuvneshwar with Ishant, however, took precedence over the conditions at hand.
As the day has progressed and India’s bowlers have toiled on the flat track, its become pretty clear that the wicket is not up to scratch by South African standards. For Ashwin had his tail up early into the day, a shocking revelation in South Africa, where wickets are known to be tilted in favour of the pacers.
Kohli has spent most of day one shuffling his bowlers and arranging and rearranging his field as South Africa’s batsmen dug deep. For the fans, the South Africa tour was to see how India fares in seaming conditions against a top side. Unfortunately, day one of the second Test in Centurion has robbed us of that opportunity.
Hopefully, as the game progresses there would be more on this pitch for the bowlers to work with.
Drinks, After 76 overs, SA 239/3: The stand between Amla and Du Plessis is nearing 50, just like’s SA last three stands. Steady (and sometimes) swift accumulation has been the name of the game and a flagging Jasprit Bumrah hasn’t been able to change much. Kohli must be hoping that the new ball does the trick.
As usual, Prem Panicker sums it up perfectly...
After 74 overs, SA 236/3: It was just a short burst for Shami and Ashwin gets a break as well. Bumrah and Pandya bowling in tandem now, with new ball available in 6 overs. Wonder if Ashwin is going to get the new ball?
Data check by Anand Katakam: Centurion is far and away Amla’s favourite ground. He averages 83 runs since he first played here in 2007. Of his 17 innings at the ground, he’s scored above 50-plus on 12 occasions. He’s converted five of those scores into centuries including one double ton against the West Indies in 2014.
After 70 overs, SA 224/3: More toil for Shami - his pace is consistently hovering around the early 130s, perhaps still affected by the break he took in the second session. Getting some reverse though, for what it’s worth. Faf plays a delightful straight drive for four. And Amla plays one of the shots of the day, caressing Ashwin through the covers for four. His next over goes for just a single.
After 66 overs, SA 208/3: Ishant tries to bowl a few short balls, but Amla is too good miss out on an opportunity to score – a controlled pull for four. A probing maiden over by Ashwin at Faf from the other end. Around the wicket, keeping it on the stumps, making Faf play at everything – one sharp chance at leg slip for Pujara, falling just short.
Shami, who had left the field in the second session due to exhaustion presumably, is back in the attack.
After 64 overs, SA 203/3: Fifty for the Mighty Hash! Amla does what he does best. Another crunching shot through the vacant cover region off Ashwin. This is a ground he loves batting. 7th fifty here to go along with 5 centuries. Class personified. (Chancy early on, and India are going to regret those missed chances, aren’t they?)
After 63 overs, SA 199/3: And once again, a wicket out of nowhere. The over after bringing up the 50 partnership, AB de Villiers is gone! What a big wicket that is. Ishant has constantly plugged away on the channel outside offstump, and ABD has chopped this on to the stumps – he has chopped quite a few today, and this one kisses the offstump. Relief on Ishant’s face.
Faf comes in and almost edges one to the slip cordon. Probing over from Ishant. Good stuff.
After 61 overs, SA 193/2: An interesting delivery from Bumrah as he delivers his 3rd maiden over. It’s a high-ish full toss at 144 kph and ABD misses it, so does Parthiv who gets hit on his chest on the bounce. It was just a few inches away from the off stump.
Stats: India’s tendency to drop catches
Final session underway
After 59 overs, SA 192/2: Bumrah and Ashwin bowling in tandem to start the final session. Amla begins proceedings with a boundary off Bumrah but he follows that up with five dot balls. Amla leaving well outside off stump. Tight over from Ashwin at the other end, as ABD plays him out from the around the wicket angle. Another boundary off Bumrah’s next over, as Amla guides it to third man with deft hands.
After 56 overs, South Africa 182/2: An even session? 104 runs for two wickets in 28 overs and Kohli might not be too disappointed with that. Dropping Amla could well come back to haunt India though as they look set for a big score. Ashwin’s marathon spell saw him take both the wickets to fall. Markram looked like he was going to make a memorable home ground ton, but got a beaut from Ashwin.
Back soon for the final session.
After 55 overs, South Africa 175/2: Ashwin finally gets a break after a 17-over spell. ABD’s attacking intent might be the instigator for that – the first ball of that 17th over was reverse swept for four. And with the ball starting to reverse, Shami is missing from action at an inopportune time. Ishant and Pandya bowling in tandem now. Getting close to the tea interval as ABD-Amla see the bowling off.
After 51 overs, South Africa 166/2: Oh dear, second chance against Amla goes a begging. (The first ‘drop’ by Pandya was an extremely tough chance though). This one isn’t easy either as Ishant tails one to Amla’s pads, he gets a healthy touch on it and Parthiv dives to his left and the ball touches his gloves and pops out. Having got there, Parthiv should have taken that. Oddly, went with both his gloves that prevented him from getting the reach. India badly need to take these half chances.
Meanwhile, here’s Kushal Phatarpekar on Markram’s fine innings:
Markram departs for a well made 94. He was just six runs away from scoring his third century in just his fifth Test. A solid knock like this against the top-ranked team in the world should keep him in good stead as he looks to further his career as South Africa’s preferred opener.
Through their performance in the first Test, India’s bowlers had shown they are not an attack that can be taken lightly. Markram, though, kept his team on top through most of day one.
With conditions changing drastically in the second test, the only hope for the visitors to take an early advantage was if the South African openers had faltered early on. While India’s bowlers might cite the lack of movement off the track for their below par performance on day one, nothing can be taken away from Markram, who hardly put a foot wrong almost through the day.
His opening partner - Elgar - had looked a little scrappy early on, but Markram’s confident approach from the other end, helped calm things down.
Markram first made his mark in 2014, when he led South Africa in the U-19 World Cup. He was their leading run-scorer in the tournament. After toiling away in South Africa’s domestic league, it was only recently that he got a look in. Since getting the opportunity, the 23-year-old Markram has shown more than just promise.
After 50 overs, South Africa 164/2: It’s time for ABD-Amla vs R Ashwin on a track that is assisting spin. This should be fun. For now the batsmen are on top. ABD starts with a stylish cut in the over Markram got out and Amla is all class as he flicks Ashwin with nonchalance for another four. Ishant meahwhile, into his 12th over, is getting a hint of reverse swing.
After 48 overs, 152/2: Heartbreak for Markram and his family who had come to watch him bat! A fine innings comes to a slightly controversial end. And it’s that man Ashwin who strikes again. This is a classic offspinner’s delivery, from around the wicket, drifting away and turning back in, Markram is late to the shot and is given out. He reviews immediately but there is a spike on snicko. Seemed like Markram was caught in two minds between square driving and square cutting that.
After 47 overs, SA 148/1 : Shami isn’t looking good. He is holding his head and was on his knees. He’s holding the back of his head and walking off. Getting from bad to worse for India.
For all the talk of “intent” from Kohli, the intensity has noticeably lowered in this heat. And it’s not going unnoticed.
Cricket has got it’s own Tinker-Man. Kohli is the new Ranieri!
After 45 overs, SA 145/1: Markram is racing towards a 100 he’ll remember for a long time. Cuts Ashwin away for a boundary and solidly plays out a Shami over. He’s reached 93 now. India are trying things but they are just not working. Worrying signs for Kohli (is he regretting dropping Bhuvi now?).
Drinks, after 43 overs, SA 140/1: Boundaries flowing now – one in each off the last five overs. Shami has been expensive today and continues to struggle to find his rhythm. Has gone for 32 from his 6 overs bowled in 3 overs. Both batsmen looking in good touch now and that spells more danger for India as the players break for drinks. Markram is just 12 away from a fine Test century.
After 40 overs, SA 126/1: Things are happening now in Centurion. As Ashwin starts to lose his length and line a tad bit – Kohli yells “offstump pe daal” – Markram gets a boundary from that over. The next over from Bumrah is a series of bouncers, and Markram is pulling and miscuing repeteadly – one top edge flies for four over the keeper. Ashwin from the other end concedes another boundary – Amla lofts him over mid-on. Ploy to hit him out of the wicket.
After 37 overs, SA 108/1: “Classic Hash” says Jonty on air as Amla breaks the shackles with a powerful punch through cover for four. And another boundary in the next over off Bumrah as he begins to look at his ease. Hundred up for the Proteas and counting.
Taking a break from providing us the data input, Anand Katakam chips in with this gem of a GIF.
After 35 overs, SA 97/1: Amla finally gets off the mark after 11 balls as Bumrah strays on to the pads a few times in his comeback over. Interestingly, Bumrah goes around the wicket to Markram - defensive from Kohli to contain the flow of runs? From the other end, Ashwin’s figures of 8-5-8-1 show how impressive he has been today.
After 32 overs, SA 87/1: Steady over from Ishant, good line and length. (Hindsight, yes, but it’d have been helped Kohli a great deal to have this at Newlands – sorry, we keep going back to the team selection) Ashwin continues to toss it up from the other end and Kohli has plenty of encouragement from the slip.
Here’s Ashish Magotra on Ashwin’s breakthrough:
It took a while and perhaps a stroke of luck but India finally have a wicket. Dean Elgar had looked unsure in the first session and he came out wanting to show more ‘intent’ in the second session.
He was down the wicket to Ashwin before the ball was bowled, the off-spinner saw him coming and dropped the ball short. Elgar tried to turn it away but hit it straight to Vijay at silly point. After some juggling, the fielder held on to the ball and India had their first wicket.
India’s bowlers had looked pretty ineffective before this. Ishant was being called upon to bowl the long, economical spell but Shami and Bumrah had not impressed at all. Ashwin had been Indian’s most impressive bowler so far and it made one wonder whether India picked the right squad?
While all the talk was about Bhuvneshwar Kumar being dropped, the bigger question might be whether, given the nature of the wicket, India needed another spinner in the playing XI. It is spinning from Day 1 and will do even more as the match goes on.
Is Kohli reading the wicket well? Is he reading it at all?
After 30 overs, SA 85/1 - Ashwin strikes! The fielders have come alive every time Ashwin had the ball, and for good reason. He has looked threatening all along and he provides the first wicket. Elgar had stepped down and hit him for a four of the last ball of the previous over and he tries to do that again. But Ashwin cleverly pulls his length back, and Elgar tamely prods it to silly point – Vijay takes a sharp catch. And Ash almost gets Amla off the last ball of that over – inside edge, on to the pad, loops up but falls short of a diving Vijay.
Kohli roars, as he does.
Second session starts
After 28 overs, SA 79/0: Ashwin to start the proceedings (India’s best bet for a wicket in the first morning of a Test in South Africa, who could have thought eh?) Continues to get turn, but its still slow turn. Elgar ends the over with a lofted straight drive, getting to the pitch of the ball.
04:05 pm: We have a guest expert in The Field newsroom today - Angikaar Choudhary makes a return and is not pleased with Kohli’s selections.
This could be it for Kohli’s superhuman presence. A pathetic selection (dropping Bhuvi) which has left everyone baffled. Bowlers not doing enough. Pitch looking placid. Hope everyone takes a look at the halo around Kohli’s head, because it could quickly be fading. The 34 different teams is a clear indicator he’s not sure about his first team. How long can he continue being so indecisive about his best XI?— Angikaar Chaudhary
Lunch-time discussion: Here’s Kushal Phatarpekar on how Bhuvi’s absence has already been felt
Much of the talk on the sidelines on day one surrounded Kohli’s choice of playing XI. The decision to replace an in-form Bhuvneshwar with Ishant Sharma had raised eye-brows.
Bhuvi’s absence, though, made an immediate impact. The man who invariably gets a breakthrough with the new ball is missing. There was pace and bounce in the track, and the hope was that Ishant could find some purchase off the wicket. The Delhi bowler did bowl a tight line through the morning session, however nothing dramatic that could put the batsmen in distress.
South Africa have galloped to a strong start. After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, the hosts have dominated proceedings. With a brown wicket to work with, India’s pacers have not shown the same ferocity as they did in Newlands.
Bumrah did get Elgar to sky one in the air, but Vijay made a meal of it at the boundary line. Other than that, India’s bowlers did not quite enough chances to inspire confidence.
In the first Test, India’s time in the field was propped up by the fall of early wickets. Bhuvi was the architect in the first innings and gave them a bright start on day one of the tour. He contributed well in the second essay as well. While the conditions at Centurion are not the same as in Newlands, it would not have hurt India’s case if they hard their in-form bowler in the mix today.
Lunch, South Africa 78/0 after 27 overs: Makram and Elgar end the session with an unbroken opening stand and it’s looking like a long day ahead of Kohli and Co on the field. Ishant looked threatening, there is turn and bounce for Ashwin but except that one missed catch by Vijay at square leg (and a botched review by Kohli for caught behind) there has not been anything threatening for the Proteas. Join us soon for the second session.
After 26 overs, SA 72/0: Fifty for Markram! The man has looked in fine touch all morning, even as Elgar has prodded his way around. Gets there with two fine looking boundaries off Pandya followed by a single. Look at his wagon wheel tells you how impressive he has been.
After 24 overs, South Africa 61/0: Some excitement finally, but false excitement as it turns out. Half appeals from Ashwin and Parthiv as Elgar is beaten by turn and bounce. Kohli is uber-excited though and calls for a review and oh dear, it’s bad. Not been Kohli’s morning by a long shot and add a lost review to that. Markram getting close to his fifty.
After 21 overs, South Africa 55/0: A very good first over from Ashwin – definite turn and bounce on offer, as he loops the ball up. Markram plays out a maiden. And an expensive over from Bumrah at the other end as he comes back into the attack. 3 boundaries off it, and the first off those should have been taken by Vijay. Elgar pulls firmly but Vijay at deep square steps in and lets the ball go over the head. Definite missed chance.
After 19 overs, South Africa 42/0: Elgar gets his first boundary after 53 balls, a ungainly cover drive off Pandya. Ishant with another maiden.
And finally, time for Ashwin.
After 16 overs, South Africa 37/0: Pandya starts with a maiden after drinks and it’s another maiden. He’s looked good as well, his skiddy action getting him some extra bounce. Ishant-Pandya seems to be the combination that can bring some joy for India. Ishant goes around the wicket to Elgar in the next over, and induces a false shot off an away-swinging ball. Some excitement.
Drinks, South Africa 36/0 after 14 overs: To India’s credit, they have not let South Africa get away on a wicket without much help – but the fact they have not had help will worry Kohli. Ishant has been the best bowler so far comfortably, and Shami has looked worryingly listless.
After 13 overs, SA 35/0: Well, one over for Shami and he’s off the attack again after conceding 13. And even before the first hour, Hardik Pandya is in the attack. That’s not good signs for theb bowling team, surely?
After 11 overs, SA 31/0: Ishant continues to trouble Elgar (who has got to be one of the least-elegant looking lefthanders around – but hey as long as he scores runs) – in one over, he hits Elgar twice on the gloves with the ball that angles away and rises more than the batsman expected. India have kept the openers under check for the first 10 overs but Shami comes back into the attack in the 11th over and concedes 13 runs. Markram goes 4-2-4-0-3 in that over and Shami’s struggles continue.
After 8 overs, SA 16/0: There is no great help on offer for Bumrah and Shami. It’s time for Ishant to replace Shami (who has once again looked below par with the new ball). Good first over from Ishant, as he gets his favourite angle away from the left hander going, beating Elgar outside his offstump. Some movement on show against Markram, but it was after the ball passes the bat.
After 5 overs, South Africa 12/0: Shami gets hit for two boundaries by Markram – one rasping punch through the cover, then one flick through midwicket. Bumrah with a maiden from the other end.
Here’s Ashish Magotra, who thinks Virat Kohli the captain is in bad form
After the first Test, Virat Kohli said that Ajinkya Rahane was kept out of the playing XI because Rohit Sharma’s current form was better. But the same Kohli chose to drop India’s most in-form bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the second Test for Ishant Sharma. This has to be a hard decision to explain.
The Centurion wicket is not expected to offer as much lateral movement as the one at Newlands but Bhuvi would still have got something with the new ball. Kohli’s ‘horses for courses’ policy is a bit extreme and perhaps it doesn’t take into account how much Bhuvi has improved as a bowler. He bowls faster and is capable of using reverse swing well too.
To say that Kohli’s team selection is questionable would be the understatement of the year.
In 34 Tests as skipper, he is yet to pick the same squad twice. Such a strategy is not likely to inspire great confidence in anyone. The question everyone will be asking: What do I need to do to stay in the squad?
And that really can’t be a good thing.
After 3 overs, India 4/0: First observations of the conditions – not even close to how much lateral movement we saw in Cape Town. As all the experts said, the pitch is showing signs of tennis ball bounce. First ball from Shami outside off stump doesn’t raise above Parthiv’s ankles.
After 1 over, SA 0/0: So it’s Bumrah with the new ball in his hand to get us underway. (Not Bhuvi, in case you missed it). A good first over, a couple of balls bounced a little steep from good length, and hit him high on the pads.
National Anthems done
1:25 pm: National anthems done, we are all set for the match to begin.
More reaction to the team selection:
This is atrocious team selection. You have left out your Most Valuable Player from last match out of the team. If team selection is based on the form then bhuvi should have been in team by default.— Jatin @Sha256_Jsp
Parthiv is a good choice. His batting has always been better than his keeping— Sudhanshu S. Singh
We are still struggling to make sense of that call to drop Bhuvi. But in the meantime, let’s look at what the experts said about the pitch.
Shaun Pollock: The grass cover on the wicket is not as thick as we have come to expect at Centurion. It’s dead grass only patches of live grass. It could be a decent surface. Spinners will play a part and reverse swing will come into play.
Faf had said something similar in the lead-up. It was browner than he expected and hoped it wouldn’t take turn. Kohli was surprised at the toss too – almost disappointed at not having a lively, green wicket.
Making sense of Kohli’s calls
Personal opinion alert: Parthiv, because Saha injury. OK. KL Rahul, because Shikhar Dhawan. Good call. Ishant Sharma for Bhuvi Kumar, because Kohli-Shastri. Incredible. If you had to play Ishant, how do you drop the guy who was your best bowler in the first match over the man who made is debut?
This is how social media is reacting:
Toss and team
Faf du Plessis wins the toss and opts to bat first on a brown Centurion pitch. Only one change for South Africa, forced by Dale Steyn’s injury. Lungi Ngidi will be making his debut at his home ground.
And the big news: Three changes for India – Saha has a niggle, so Parthiv Patel replaces him. KL Rahul comes in for Dhawan. And (wait what?) Ishant Sharma comes in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
India’s playing XI
12:55 pm: All the talk in the lead-up has been about India’s playing XI. It has been speculated that Kohli is once again making plenty of changes, we’ll find out soon.
Meanwhile, here’s the XI you wanted:
All set for the 2nd Test
12:45 pm: Hello all, welcome to The Field’s live blog of the first day of the second Test. There’s nothing like the excitement of the first session of a Test cricket, is there? And with Virat Kohli as the captain, even the toss becomes an exciting affair. We are about 15 minutes away. Strap in, enjoy the ride.