India in South Africa

Second Test, day three, as it happened: Play called off due to bad light after ABD fifty

Live updates, analysis and statistics from day three in Centurion.

Masterclass by Kohli: A majestic 153 by the captain, India finish 28 behind South Africa.
Day two: India lose wickets but Virat Kohli stands tall.

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Wrap-up: So which way is this match headed, anyway? Considering the South Africans are 118 runs ahead with ABD still at the crease, it’s got to be their match to lose. In our book, India are going to need an extra-ordinary effort on days four and five to win this. The pitch continued to behave as mysteriously as the antagonist in a Sherlocks Holmes novel and anything more than 200 is going to be challenging. But not if Virat Kohli has anything to say about it, as he produced another masterclass - a century that he particularly enjoyed, given the situation it came in.

For now, this is all we have. Stay tuned for post-match analysis and do join us tomorrow for the fourth day.

09:25: And it’s stumps. A disappointing end to another fascinating day of Test cricket. But you never know what this little period of rain can do to the pitch. Another piece in the puzzle after all.

09:20 pm: Should be called off soon, we’d think.

09:10 pm: As we wait for some official confirmation about the day’s play, here’s some Australian Open reading for you.

08:50 pm: It’s quite dark in Centurion. The artificial lights are on, but aren’t helping matters. No official update for now.

BCCI
BCCI

08:35 pm: More reaction to that Parthiv Patel-Cheteshwar Pujara stare off (aka a dropped catch):

8:30 pm: Could just be the end of day’s play.

BAD LIGHT STOPS PLAY: Players walk off for bad light. And Virat Kohli has walked straight to the match referee Chris Broad. A very animated discussion this, with Shastri is in the background. We might not have heard the last about what happened in this little phase of play.

After 29 overs, SA 84/2: FIFTY for ABD! What a player. Came in at a daunting situation (again) and made it seem easy (again). Brilliant little innings this. IT’s a good over from Bumrah though, probing both batsmen on the offstump line, beating even ABD a couple of times. Seems like a semblance of calm has returned to the proceedings (or the cameraman got tired of focussing on Kohli’s angry face)

After 27 overs, SA 84/2: The lead is past 100 now and there is a definite sense that India are losing the plot on the field. Shami bowls short and wide, ABD smashes it for four and Kohli is still visibly unhappy – presumably with a wet ball, or possibly with his bowlers. So much drama unfolding ever since play resumed, that missed catch triggering something. The commentators cannot stop talking about how India needs Kohli to stay calm now because honestly, he is unravelling from what we can see on the broadcast.

We still can’t get over how Parthiv missed that catch. He knows the slip was wide, how can he not even attempt to go for it!?

After 25 overs, SA 75/2: Oh dear, Parthiv Patel. What are you doing! It’s a brute of a delivery by Bumrah from around the wicket, rises on Elgar, who fends it awkwardly. The edge goes between the keeper and the first slip – the first slip was technically second slip. Shocking that Parthiv wouldn’t even go for it. He was ball watching, his feet stuck, asking Pujara where he was. Horrendous technique and that’s not the first error he has made in this match.

After 24 overs, South Africa 69/2: Play resumes after rain delay, Shami completes his over. Kohli apparently not happy with the ball being wet – takes Ashwin out of the play. Bumrah from the other end. The Indian captain doesn’t look pleased.

07:45 pm: Light could become an issue looking at that.

7:40 pm: More good news. Play all set to resume soon (in about 10 minutes from now) and no overs lost, the players will continue playing till half past six local time, light permitting.

07:30 pm: More good news. The covers are coming off. It now depends on how the outfield is – get the supersoppers out, Centurion!

07:15 pm: Good news, it looks like. The match should begin soon.

7:05 pm: The rain has apparently gone down to a drizzle. Wonder what the impact on the pitch would be because of this rain. South Africa are ahead by 96, and with AB de Villiers in that form, it looks ominous for India.

RAIN stops play – after 23.5 overs, South Africa 68/2: The cricket seems to have taken a backseat temporarily as thunderclaps are heard around the stadium (even on television through the stump mic) there is definite rain in the air. In fact, the rain has reached the stadium and the covers are being brought on. Holding says the pitch could use a little bit of water. You can take a fast bowler out of cricket but not vice-versa. It’s coming down hard now.

After 22 overs, South Africa 67/2: The Ashwin versus Elgar battle has turned around significantly. Just as in the couple of overs before tea, the first one after the break sees Elgar hit the first six of the innings. It’s tossed up, Elgar clears his front foot and deposits it over long on. Another steady over from Shami at the other end, just a single. He was hiding the ball in his run-up – looking for reverse already? Gavaskar, meanwhile, is fawning over ABD’s technique and how much time he seems to have.

Back for the final session, South Africa 60/2 after 20 overs: Can India get ABD’s wicket early? The lead is already 88. Shami starts off – this is perhaps the first time his first over in an innings is the 20th. A maiden over to start off – looked in good rhythm there. Running in hard, bowling on ABD’s third and fourth stumps.

Data check by Anand Katakam: We saw one more special century by Virat Kohli today. His conversion rate from 50s to 100s is incredible – out of the 36 times he has scored 50-plus in an innings, 21 have been converted to centuries.

TEA TIME - after 19 overs, South Africa 60/2: This is an excellent recovery by South Africa and once again ABD is at the heart of it all. The score is effectively 88 for 2 and that means another 150 runs, India will be under immense pressure. Ashwin has asked a lot of questions, especially against Elgar, but he has to rethink his strategy when he comes out after tea – for all the turn on offer, he hasn’t created too many clear cut chances in his 10 overs yet.

Players break for tea, so do we. Be back shortly.

After 17 overs, South Africa 58/2: This is now a very solid partnership – 55 and counting. While ABD has looked busy right from ball one, Elgar is finding his feet now as well. Ashwin has been bowling from one end non-stop and after having the number of Elgar for the most part, the left-hander is starting to assert himself. Two boundaries, once each in Ashwin’s last two overs. Both too full, both dispatched to the midwicket fence.

Some chatter going on between Kohli and Elgar and the umpire had to intervene briefly.

Never hit a bowler on the helmet

Here’s Ashish Magotra on Bumrah’s opening burst

One knock on the helmet can do wonders to a bowler’s temperament when he comes on to bowl. Morkel wasn’t very kind to Bumrah when he was batting and when the Indian paceman came out to bowl, he was just a little pissed off.

It didn’t take him long to get stuck in. One ball he bowled to SA opener Markram was collected high above the keeper’s head and the other stayed low and trapped the batsman right in front on the stumps. Replays showed the ball would have crashed into the middle stump and SA didn’t even bother with the review.

An over later, he repeated the dose and sent Hashim Amla back and reduced SA to 7-2. The uneven bounce was doing the trick but so was the length that Bumrah was bowling. He not only got the wickets but he also beat the beat multiple times. He ended his first fiery spell with figures of 5-2-19-2.

It is just the start India wanted and now the rest of bowlers need to come along for the party.  

After 13 overs, South Africa 38/2: It’s a slightly defensive field on show by Kohli – just two men catching for Ashwin, even for Elgar. ABD, meanwhile, is batting on a different pitch, just like Kohli was. Moves on to 24 off 26 balls. That’s what great batsmen do. A lovely straight drive on the up between the bowler and mid-off – Ishant (Replacing Bumrah) could only admire that. And after a misfield by Shami takes the struggling Elgar off strike and ABD cuts powerfully for four. Not good cricket by India in that over and the intensity has just dropped off a bit, it looks like.

After 10 overs, South Africa 27/2: Ashwin is troubling Elgar no end – the opener tries to relieve pressure by going for the big shot over long on, but he miscues it over the head of mid off instead, falls safe. ABD however has looked fairly comfortable, playing his shots when the ball is on his pads or width is offered – a backfoot punch off Bumrah the shot of the innings so far.

Here’s Ashish Magotra on what has been a whirlwind day of Test cricket:

So much has happened since India were all out of 307. But it’s never late to talk about that innings by the captain.
Virat Kohli’s contribution was 153 off 217 balls – that’s 49.83% of the runs India scored in total! It was the kind of innings that will be talked about for years to come. The Indian skipper was head and shoulders above the rest of India’s batsmen – a fact which brings back memories of the 90s when Sachin Tendulkar would often find himself in similar scenarios and also the fact that the rest of this line-up gave it away far too easily.

The wicket is deteriorating. But batting is not an impossible task yet and that will mean that India’s bowlers will have to pull up their socks deliver a bowling performance that has all the intent that their skipper could possibly ask for. Bumrah has started well on that front and the pitch is asking plenty of questions of the hosts’ batting lineup. 

The 28-run lead is not big and both teams will start the second innings on an even note. All it will take is one big innings from AB de Villiers to put India under the pump. Still, SA will have a target in mind and so will India. Here we go. Another fascinating few sessions of Test cricket coming up.  

After 8 overs, India 16/2: Bumrah and Ashwin continue to keep it tight. Holding and Mbangwa are talking about how this pitch has turned this match against South Africa – both the balls that Bumrah got the wickets were short of good length but were crashing into the stumps. That’s a rarity in South Africa. Faf cannot be happy with this. Meanwhile, Ashwin is getting the ball to even turn from the straight, not just the rough - beats Elgar with a beaut.

After 6 overs, South 8/2: Well, well, well. What do we have here. Bumrah on fire! The pitch is under the scanner again but Kohli and Bumrah wouldn’t care a jot. Amla departs just like Markram. The ball’s pitched outside off but darts in low, the batsman can’t get his bat down in time. Plumb in front.

ABD is the new man in and gets a brilliant yorker first up, he just about digs it out and gets a boundary to his name.

After 5 overs, South Africa 3/1: Elgar, as he has done all series, is looking very uncomfortable out there in the middle. “He’s struggling lads, he’s struggling” is the crux of all the chirping from the close in fielders. Struggling against both Bumrah and Ashwin, who’s working with a rough outside Elgar’s offstump.

After 2 overs, South Africa 1/1 - Markram gone! That was unplayable from Bumrah! The ball curves back in a long way from outside the off stump – angle, plus movement in the air and keeps low to go with it. Markram trapped right in front, caught on backfoot, the ball thudding below the knee roll. Bumrah knew immediately he had the wicket, no review from SA either. What a start for India!

After 1 over, South Africa 1/0: Well, well. How about that? Ashwin is opening the bowling for India in an overseas Test. It’s a steady first over, good bounce, but nothing exaggerated. Markram gets a single off the last ball.

Innings-break: Praise pours in for Virat Kohli...

India 307 all out - Virat Kohli dismissed finally: And so it comes to end. A truly magnificent innings from the Indian captain ends on 153. He steps down the track and tries to hit Morkel over long on for a six, it’s timed fairly well, but doesn’t come from the middle of the bat – he’s caught at long on. 98 runs put together for the last 4 wickets and India finish 28 runs behind South Africa’s effort.

After 91 overs, India 306/9 - Ishant Sharma gone: And the short ball strategy from around the wicket does the trick for Morne Morkel. He peppers Ishant with a barrage of bouncers and the one ball that is on Ishant’s face does the trick, Ishant is unable to keep it out – it’s a simple catch for Markram at short leg.

After 90 overs, 306/8 (Kohli 152*, Ishant 3*).
150 for Kohli! He reaches the mark with a boundary. Kisses his wedding ring that he wears around his neck in a chain. It has been a solid knock by the skipper. He’s stood in the middle even as wickets tumbled at the other end and has helped India reduce the deficit considerably.

After 86 overs, India 293/8 (Kohli 146*, Ishant 1*).
Kohli, Ishant are back in the middle after the break.
Kohli stretching his partner between the wickets. Ishant is not quite accustomed to the constant running, but is heeding to his captain’s desire. India still trail by 42 runs.

Here’s Vinayak Mohanarangan on Virat Kohli and the manner in which the skipper has batted with the tail.

Not a smart strategy
The Indian captain has not done many things wrong in this innings with the bat in his hand but it was really daft on his part to let Shami take a single off the last ball off Philander’s over - the first over with the new ball, the same over Ashwin had got out. Morkel got an entire over at Shami and he makes it count with a wicket off the last ball. It’s one thing to trust the tailenders but to do it when the new ball has just been taken, is questionable. It’s little things that matter in this game, and India have not done well when it comes to the small margins.  

At Lunch, India 287/8 (Kohli 141*, Ishant 0*). They still trail SA by 48 runs.
Kohli has held the innings together even as wickets have fallen all around him. There were two crucial stands with Pandya and Ashwin, but they could not hang in there with him for long. India, though, will be happy with the situation they are in at the moment.

After 83 overs, India 281/8 (Kohli 135*). They still trail by 54 runs.
WICKET! India lose their eighth wicket. Shami is caught at first slip off Morkel It was pitch in short, Shami tried to defend it but could get behind the line of the ball. Beaten by the pace and bounce.
Shami c Amla b Morkel 1 (9).

After 82 overs, India 281/7 (Kohli 135*, Shami 1*).
The Kohli-Ashwin partnership ends at 71 runs. Faf du Plessis takes a blinder at second slip after Ashwin gets a thick edge off the bowling of Philander. Kohli is livid as Ashwin walks back after a well-made 38. India still trail by 54 runs with only three wickets left.

People *still* can’t get over that Pandya run-out:

After 78 overs, India 263/6 (Kohli 124*, Ashwin 32*).
Kohli and Ashwin have already brought up their 50-run partnership – in just 62 balls. Ashwin’s contribution in that is 32 runs, while Kohli’s is 17.

After 76 overs, India 253/6 (Kohli 120*, Ashwin 26*).
The pitch has eased up a bit, it seems, as Virat Kohli brings up India’s 250 with two delightful shots – the first a clip off the pads off a low full toss and the second a punch towards the deep point boundary for two.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, people are still trying to recover from Pandya’s run-out.

After 73 overs, India 235/6 (Kohli 105*, Ashwin 23*).
It’s drinks in the first session and India have only lost one wicket so far. It should have been zero but for Pandya’s brain-fade and it could have been two, but Ashwin survived after his nick to the slips just about grassed before going into AB de Villiers’s hands. The ball has begun to reverse and the South Africans can sense a collapse. Will they take the new ball?

Here’s Ashish Magotra’s take on Pandya’s moment of madness:

It didn’t take long for Kohli to get to three figures on Day 3. He started the day as he began but he lost his partner to the most casual piece of cricket you will see in a long, long time.

Kohli was looking good and Pandya was looking solid as well when the latter called for a quick single after hitting the ball to mid-on. 

Pandya set off quickly but Kohli sent him back just as quickly. He turned and looked to have things well under control. And when Philander decided to go for the stumps with his throw, it seemed like an afterthought.

The Indians even scrambled through from another single after the ball ricocheted off the stumps.
Then, India saw the replays. Pandya, in a brain-freeze moment that would have done the South Africans proud, did not ground his bat or his feet. When the throw hit the stumps, Pandya was in the air.

Amid all that talk of intent, India have been messing up the basics. They don’t catch well in the slips, they make schoolboy errors in the field and they don’t ground their bat. Perhaps more than intent, they need to be drilled into doing these things right. This was the kind of dismissal that will haunt Pandya for a while to come

Meanwhile, here’s a GIF of Pandya’s brain-fade moment:

After 70 overs, India 231/6 (Kohli 103*, Ashwin 22*).

South Africa are pumped up and banging it in at new batsman R Ashwin but the all-rounder is up for it! Ashwin just hit Rabada for three consecutive boundaries to relieve some pressure after Pandya’s wicket. Remember, there is no Bhuvi in the team so Ashwin is the last remaining batsman who can actually stick it out with Kohli in the middle.

After 67.1 overs, India 205/6 (Kohli 103*).
WICKET! Pandya is run-out is the most horrendous manner possible. Unforgivable! Gavaskar is livid in the commentary box after Pandya ambles into the crease without grounding his bat. The throw in from Philander hits directly in to the stumps with Pandya’s leg still in the air. Gifts SA the wicket. The wicket comes at a time when a steady partnership was just building up between the Kohli and Pandya.

After 66.2 overs, India 205/5 (Kohli 101*, Pandya 15*).
100 up for Kohli! His 21st ton in Test cricket.
Has held India’s innings together. Led from the front, scoring at a quick rate throughout. Celebrates after pinching a run, but stops it midway to make it a double off the overthrow.

After 65 overs, India 201/5 (Kohli 96*, Pandya 14*).
Kohli moves into the 90s with an exquisite cover drive for four off Ngidi. He’s looking solid in the middle. Has just smashed the bowler for two back to back boundaries to take India past the 200-run mark. India will want him to make this a big one.

After 63 overs, India 189/5 (Kohli 85*, Pandya 13*).
Kohli did not smash a century for two hours yesterday. He has begun on a sedate note this morning. Lots of chatter between the two batsmen in the middle. They are constantly discussing their observations of how the ball is moving.

After 62 overs, India 187/5 (Kohli 85*, Pandya 12*).
Kohli, Pandya resume proceedings and are gifted runs early on as Philander strays to concede a leg bye that goes all the way to the boundary. India now trail by 147 runs.

Pitch: If not for the wear and tear due to the foot-marks, the pitch looks exactly the way it did on Day 1. Batsmen, though, will not be troubled, feels Gavaskar.

All set for day three

01:00 pm: Hello all and welcome to the live blog of the second Test between India and South Africa. All eyes are on Virat Kohli who is unbeaten on 85 but South Africa are comfortably placed with India already five wickets down. Day three is the moving day and let’s see which way this moves.

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