India in South Africa

Eleven minutes of typical SA madness that turned the tide in India’s favour on Day 1 at Centurion

South Africa lost three wickets in as many overs of the final session to hand the visitors the advantage on the opening day of the second Test.

It was a hot summer’s day at the Centurion on Saturday. A sluggish track meant that unlike Newlands, there wouldn’t be much lateral movement for the pacers.

The Indian team management’s questionable selection choices left most wondering whether the day would have panned out differently had certain individuals had also been picked.

A few dropped catches further dented India’s hope of making a sound start in a Test, which they need to keep their hopes of winning a Test series in South Africa alive.

But despite all these factors, Kohli’s men ended up on top at close of play. India turned the tide in final session as they struck thrice in a span of 11 minutes to reduce South Africa from 246/3 to 251/6.

South Africa’s batsmen had showed patience on a track where the ball wasn’t quite coming onto the bat. Aiden Markram (94) and Hashim Amla (82) had produced gritty knocks to not only frustrate the Indian bowlers, but put the hosts on track of achieving a big total.

India’s bowlers were struggling to find any help from the placid track, with the strategy slowly shifting to containment in the final session of the day.

The visitors needed something exceptional to turn the tide and they got just that. One, a piece of remarkable fielding that is rare to come by. Two, an impressive display by a spinner, who had no business of extracting turn off a wicket on Day 1 of a Test in South Africa. And third, a ‘brain fade’ moment that has no explanation.

The X-factor

Hardik Pandya, who has made it a habit to turn things around for India lately, started off the sequence of events with an exceptional run-out of Amla in the 81st over.

Pandya was one of India’s standout performer in the first Test. His counter-attacking 93 in the first innings of the Cape Town Test and an impressive performance with the ball in the second essay had helped him given a good account of himself.

The all-rounder once again stepped up, this time with his quick thinking. Bowling to Amla, Pandya was quick to reach the ball as the batsman dabbed one trying to pinch a quick single. South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis was keen on the run and Amla had to abide by his skipper’s decision. Pandya, though, reached the ball quickly and pulled off a turn and and direct hit that would have made some of the best fielders in the world to sit up and take notice.

Off-spinner R Ashwin produced some sharp turn to dismiss Quinton de Kock off the first ball he faced in very next over. This was Ashwin’s third wicket of the day, three more than what he had managed in the entire tour of South Africa in 2013.

It was remarkable to watch Ashwin find turn and bounce off the track on Day 1. In South Africa, spinners seldom find assistance from a wicket on the opening day of a Test. To India’s fortune, this was to be that rare occurence where sharp turn would be on offer.

In the 83rd over, all-rounder Vernon Philander gifted India their sixth scalp of the day after he was run-out in hilarious circumstances.

Philander dabbed the ball and scooted off for a run. His partner and skipper Faf du Plessis appeared to have shouted no from the other end, but Philander was busy ball watching and soon joined his skipper at the other end handing India their third wicket in as many overs.

After the first two sessions, it became evident that South Africa were eyeing a big total. They ended the day on 269/6. In 11 manic minutes, they went from dominating the day to losing three quick wickets and all their momentum.

Those 11 minutes were almost as unexplainable as India’s bold selection moves at the start of play.

A wicketless first session had added to the pressure on Kohli and Co. As Markram and Amla motored in the second session, it was dawning on most that the decision was proving counter-productive.

The late flurry of wickets, though, came as a welcome relief for India. It was like a burst of cold wind on a hot summer’s day – the bowlers ran in that bit harder and there was a spring in the stride fielders too.

There’s still work to be done and India should to not let the advantage slip from this point. Day 2 and 3 are expected to good for batting with the wicket expected to crack on Day 4 and 5, much like in the sub-continent. With the hot weather to boot, it is likely to feel like playing at home for the Indians.

There is unlikely to be a better scenario for India to level the series. Kohli will stress on that and so will Shastri. But cricket, as Day 1 showed, can be a funny, funny game.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Movies can make you leap beyond what is possible

Movies have the power to inspire us like nothing else.

Why do we love watching movies? The question might be elementary, but one that generates a range of responses. If you had to visualise the world of movies on a spectrum, it would reflect vivid shades of human emotions like inspiration, thrill, fantasy, adventure, love, motivation and empathy - generating a universal appeal bigger than of any other art form.

“I distinctly remember when I first watched Mission Impossible I. The scene where Tom Cruise suspends himself from a ventilator to steal a hard drive is probably the first time I saw special effects, stunts and suspense combined so brilliantly.”  

— Shristi, 30

Beyond the vibe of a movie theatre and the smell of fresh popcorn, there is a deeply personal relationship one creates with films. And with increased access to movies on television channels like &flix, Zee Entertainment’s brand-new English movie channel, we can experience the magic of movies easily, in the comforts of our home.

The channel’s tagline ‘Leap Forth’ is a nod to the exciting and inspiring role that English cinema plays in our lives. Comparable to the pizazz of the movie premieres, the channel launched its logo and tagline through a big reveal on a billboard with Spider-Man in Mumbai, activated by 10,000 tweets from English movies buffs. Their impressive line-up of movies was also shown as part of the launch, enticing fans with new releases such as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, The Dark Tower, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Life.

“Edgar Wright is my favourite writer and director. I got interested in film-making because of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the dead. I love his unique style of storytelling, especially in his latest movie Baby Driver.”

— Siddhant, 26

Indeed, movies can inspire us to ‘leap forth’ in our lives. They give us an out-of-this-world experience by showing us fantasy worlds full of magic and wonder, while being relatable through stories of love, kindness and courage. These movies help us escape the sameness of our everyday lives; expanding our imagination and inspiring us in different ways. The movie world is a window to a universe that is full of people’s imaginations and dreams. It’s vast, vivid and populated with space creatures, superheroes, dragons, mutants and artificial intelligence – making us root for the impossible. Speaking of which, the American science fiction blockbuster, Ghost in the Shell will be premiering on the 24th of June at 1:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M, only on &flix.

“I relate a lot to Peter Parker. I identified with his shy, dorky nature as well as his loyalty towards his friends. With great power, comes great responsibility is a killer line, one that I would remember for life. Of all the superheroes, I will always root for Spiderman”

— Apoorv, 21

There are a whole lot of movies between the ones that leave a lasting impression and ones that take us through an exhilarating two-hour-long ride. This wide range of movies is available on &flix. The channel’s extensive movie library includes over 450 great titles bringing one hit movie premiere every week. To get a taste of the exciting movies available on &flix, watch the video below:

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of &flix and not by the Scroll editorial team.