India surged back into contention against South Africa after two run outs late in the day, including the key wicket of Hashim Amla, resulted in the hosts slipping to 269 for six at the close on the opening day of the second cricket test at Centurion. This, however, had as much to do with his quality as it did the inconsistency of India's seamers, and South Africa, led by a classy near-century from Aiden Markram, were by far the dominant side as they moved to 182 for 2 by tea.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar's exclusion from the team was received was surprise by both the media and experts.
India made three changes to the XI that lost the first Test at Cape Town last week. It was very hot.
Two balls later, de Kock edged Ashwin to India captain Virat Kohli at slips, with Kohli setting off on a vigorous celebration that took him right to the other end of the pitch.
It got worse for South Africa when Vernon Philander set off for a suicidal run and found himself at the same end as Du Plessis to be run out without scoring.
"It's all part of the game".
Kohli, he revealed, had walked up to him after his dismissal and said, "Well played, you were unlucky to get out.' It was a great gesture from him".
Rookie pacers Duanne Olivier and Lungi Ngidi have been added to the squad and skipper Faf du Plessis may be lured into fielding either of them. South Africa may bowl consistently to him and treat him more like a top order batsman.
A confident Markram reached his fifty off 81 balls and South Africa moved to 78 without loss at lunch, but Murali Vijay ended an opening stand of 85, juggling to take a catch at silly point as Ashwin tempted Elgar into a loose drive.
The India batsmen failed to capitalise after their bowlers skittled out South Africa for just 130 in their second innings, setting the visitors a target of 208 runs. He bowled 31 overs. We would've wanted to bat first as well. "But I do expect another huge performance from them", he said.
"He is an incredible athlete, I think that's his strongest attribute".
By the time of the second chance, Markram had been adjudged caught behind off Ashwin for 94 - the second time he has fallen in the nineties in his seven Test innings.
About being dismissed in the 90s again, Markram said, "Massively disappointed".
"The information from the groundsmen is that the grass on the wicket has been burnt from the heat over the last week". Ishant responded impressively, coming on as first change and testing Dean Elgar's footwork and judgment with his angle, a bit of seam movement, and a fullish length that drew the left-hander forward. Exactly what we expected it to be and we actually wanted it to be that way so that both teams are into the contest provided they play some good cricket.
But Markram and then Amla played South Africa into a position of dominance, with Amla stroking 14 fours and appearing to be on the way to another century at a ground where he has his best record. Du Plessis, though, set off for the quick single.
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