CAPE TOWN, Jan 6: Hardik Pandya stood tall amid ruins with his all-round prowess but hosts South Africa were still very much in command with a current lead of 142 runs against India after an enthralling second day in the first cricket Test.
Indian batsman Hardik Pandya in action during the second day of the first Test against South Africa at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, on Saturday. – AP/PTI
Pandya played a swashbuckling innings of 93 off 95 balls as India managed a face-saving 209 after being in tatters at 92 for 7 during a typical Test match day where there was an even contest between bat and ball.
With cushion of 77-run lead, the Proteas top-order batted with more purpose as they finished the day at 65 for 2 but Pandya (2/17 in 4 overs) was again in the thick of things getting the wickets of openers Aiden Markram (34) and Dean Elgar (25).
At stumps dependable Hashim Amla (4 batting) was in company of nightwatchman Kagiso Rabada (2 batting).
Call it a coincidence, Pandya’s all-round show that gave India a toehold came on the 59th birthday of India’s greatest ever all-rounder Kapil Dev.
However with three days of play left and the pitch easing out compared to the first day, India will have an uphill task if they are to chase anything in excess of 275 runs.
That India were not completely out of the match is solely due to Pandya’s swift yet brutal counter-attack that provided the visitors with much-needed breathing space.
Pandya justified his inclusion adding an invaluable 99 runs for the 8th wicket with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (25) after India looked down and out at 92 for 7.
Pandya hit 14 boundaries in all and a six off left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj during his entertaining knock.
The Baroda dasher didn’t complicate things and more importantly like AB de Villiers decided to take the attack back to the opposition camp without trying to defend doggedly.
He trusted the bounce, got on top of the rising deliveries and played some audacious strokes square of the wicket despite getting two reprieves on 15 (dropped in the slips by Dean Elgar) and on 71 (stumping chance missed) respectively.
Pandya gave Maharaj the charge but missed it completely and Quinton de Kock made a mess of stumping opportunity.
Post lunch, Vernon Philander (3/33 in 14.3 overs) struck off the very first ball as Cheteshwar Pujara (26) was caught at second slip. – PTI
South Africa 1st Innings: 286
India 1st Innings (Over night 28/3):
Pujara c du Plessis b Philander 26
Rohit Sharma lbw b Rabada 11
Ashwin c de Kock b Philander 12
Pandya c de Kock b Rabada 93
Saha lbw b Steyn 0
B Kumar c de Kock b Morkel 25
Mohammed Shami not out 4
Bumrah c Elgar b Rabada 2.
Extras: (b 1, lb 13) 14.
Total: (73.4 Overs all out) 209.
Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-18, 3-27, 4-57, 5-76, 6-81, 7-92, 8-191, 9-199, 10-209.
Bowling: Philander 14.3-8-33-3, Steyn 17.3-6-51-2, Morkel 19-6-57-2, Rabada 16.4-4-34-3, Maharaj 6-0-20-0.
South Africa 2nd Innings:
Markram c Kumar b Pandya 34
Elgar c Saha b Pandya 25
Rabada not out 2
Amla not out 4
Total: (20 Overs) 65/2
Fall of wickets: 1-52, 2-59.
Bowling: B Kumar 6-3-16-0, Bumrah 4-0-14-0, Shami 5-1-15-0, Pandya 4-0-17-2, Ashwin 1-0-3-0.