Second Test finely poised after India dim Proteas initial dominance | Sport


Temba Bavuma with Marco Jansen. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

The second Test stood delicately poised following India’s
fightback that dimmed South Africa’s dominance, in parts, at the Wanderers on
the second day.

The visitors, who were bowled out for 202 in the first
innings, will feel they wrested some momentum from the Proteas, who gained a
27-run lead after being bowled out for 229 in reply.

The tourists had Shardul Thakur (7/61) to thank for their
claw-back after he ripped through the Proteas, breaking their most crucial
partnerships and preventing Dean Elgar’s men from disappearing into the

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India was 85/2 at stumps, with a 58-run lead going into day

Marco Jansen took destructive opener, KL Rahul, out early
for 8 (21), Aiden Markram catching a contentious nick at second slip.

Rahul’s partner in crime, Mayank Agarwal, also departed when
he was trapped in front, offering no shot to a Duanne Olivier stumps-bound

But India’s batters scored freely until the close of play,
going at a run rate of more than four per over as Cheteshwar Pujara (35*) and
Ajinkya Rahane (11*) finished unbeaten at stumps.

The pair, who have been under pressure from Indian critics
for recent below-par performances, gave a hint of their pedigree, which will
destroy the Proteas’ chances if they continue unchecked on day three.

South Africa can ill-afford to give India a lead their
feeble batting order will battle to overhaul.

Although they finally crossed the 200-run frontier, the
Proteas’ batting frailties followed them from Centurion to Johannesburg, where
they squandered a chance to secure a healthier lead.

Two half-centurions, Temba Bavuma and Keegan Petersen,
failed to hammer home their advantage after getting themselves set on a wicket
that had plenty runs on offer.

Iconic Bullring looks a shell of itself without fans

On days like these, the Wanderers Stadium looked a shell of
its former vibrant self.

Without fans in its vast grandstands, no kids running around
in the family area and bereft of beer-drinkers at Castle Corner, the
traditional experience of being at the iconic Bullring was lost.

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It felt as if the summer sun was going to waste as its
bountiful rays landed on commercial brandishes rather than sunscreen-soaked

This part of the treasure chest the coronavirus has stolen
from humankind.

Regardless of the diluted stadium experience, the handful onlookers
were treated, late on, to Jansen’s ungainly but effective blows at the end of
SA’s first innings.


Shardul Thakur. (Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

The youngster, who was elevated to No 7 after Duanne Olivier
replaced Wiaan Mulder in the order, had a jolly good time hacking Indian
bowlers to various parts of the ground.

He wasn’t expected to make too many runs – his primary role
being his left arm quicks – so the opportunity was almost a “free
hit”, a chance to earn himself a proper all-rounder’s reputation.

Thakur – who else? – eventually removed Jansen for a handy
21 (34), getting him caught by Ravichandran Ashwin from extra cover.

Thakur wasn’t done ending the fun.

He captured Lungi Ngidi’s scalp to complete a magnificent
seven allotment. He had never taken a five-for before taking those career-best

Scores in brief:

India: 202 all out (KL Rahul 50, Ravichandran Ashwin 46, Marco Jansen 4/31, Duanne Olivier 3/64, Kagiso Rabada 3/64)

SA: 229 all out (Keegan Petersen 62, Temba Bavuma 51, Shardul Thakur 7/61, Mohammed Shami 2/52)

India (2nd innings): 85/2 (Cheteshwar Pujara 35*, Mayank Agarwal 23, Marco Jansen 1/18, Duanne Olivier 1/22)

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