Virat Kohli and his habit of making selection decisions out off a hat continued in the second Test against South Africa at Centurion.
South Africa won the toss and decided to bat first on a pitch that increasingly conducive to spin, as the day went. They handed a debut to 21-year-old fast bowler Lungi Ngidi. India, on the other hand, decided to make three changes in their team.
Out went Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha and surprisingly Bhuvneshwar Kumar and in came KL Rahul, Parthiv Patel, and Ishant Sharma. Parthiv Patel had last played a Test outside India in 2004 at SCG; which was also the final Test of Steve Waugh. The benching of Bhuvneshwar Kumar also raised lots of eyebrows, as he had picked 6 wickets in the first Test including a four-wicket haul in the first innings.
South Africa had a good start with Elgar scoring 35 and Markram giving them good support. Elgar fell to Ashwin, who managed to get some spin and bounce at the SuperSport pitch. Markram and Hashim Amla then added 63 runs, with Markram falling 6 runs short of a brilliant century. He fell to Ashwin too, who had him caught by Parthiv.
AB de Villiers was the next to go for 20 runs off 48 balls, as he played onto his stumps off an Ishant delivery. Quinton de Kock went for a golden duck to Ashwin. Hashim Amla was caressing the ball brilliantly until Hardik Pandya created a wicket by running Amla out for 82 runs. Vernon Philander had a ‘brain fade’ while he went for a non-existent run.
Faf du Plessis was not out for 24 runs and Keshav Maharaj is supporting him on 10 runs.
R Ashwin bowled a marathon spell of 31 overs and picked 3/90; while Ishant Sharma picked the other wicket. Mohd Shami was out of his elements and went for runs, while Bumrah was impressive, without getting a wicket.
South Africa, on the other hand, was looking strong to end the day at 300 or so, lost some wickets in quick succession, giving Indian bowlers a sniff at the tail. The pitch at the SuperSport Park will definitely be criticized for having low bounce and no pace on day 1 for the bowlers.
SOUTH AFRICA 269/6 (A MARKRAM 94, H AMLA 82; R ASHWIN 3/90)