It was another fascinating day’s play in this second Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg between India and South Africa. The match currently hangs in the balance with India 85/2 (lead of 58 runs) at stumps.
South Africa resumed the day on 35/1, and fifties from Keegan Petersen and Temba Bavuma along with lower-order contributions helped them gain a 27-run lead as they were bowled out for 229. Shardul Thakur was the pick of the bowlers for India as he took 7/61. In reply, India lost both their openers but Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane helped them go unscathed to stumps.
Here are the talking points from the second day’s play.
Keegan Petersen impresses with maiden Test fifty
Before this second Test, Keegan Petersen had managed to score a mere 76 runs in the five innings that he had batted in Test cricket. But he had faced 20 deliveries in each of those knocks and had just one score of under 15. Thus, the potential was there but he wasn’t able to convert it into results. He did so in the first innings of this Wanderers Test.
Petersen was dropped on 12 by Rishabh Pant late on Day 1 and he made the most of the chance. The 28-year-old looked solid in defence and also kept the scoreboard ticking when he got the opportunity to. There were a few plays and misses but he brushed that aside and stuck to the task on hand. Petersen recorded his maiden Test half-century and played 118 balls for his 61 before Shardul Thakur dismissed him.
Temba Bavuma keeps South Africa afloat with a fluent half-century
Temba Bavuma has been South Africa’s best batter in this series so far. The 31-year-old Cape Town-born batter has looked rock solid in the middle-order. He scored 52 in the first innings of the first Test after South Africa were 32/4 and remained unbeaten on 35 in the second innings.
In this game, when he walked into bat, South Africa had lost two quick wickets and they lost a third as well in no time. At 102/4, the hosts were in a bit of trouble but Bavuma ensured they didn’t have a proper collapse and he was one of the reasons why they could go past India’s total as well.
Bavuma batted at a brisk pace and consistently got the boundaries. He timed the ball well against the pacers and he didn’t let Ravichandran Ashwin settle and milked him for runs. Eventually, he finished with a 60-ball 51 before a rush of blood cost him his wicket soon after reaching the fifty-run landmark.
Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj help South Africa gain a 27-run lead
Throughout day two, India picked up wickets in clusters. Three of them came before lunch and three more came in the lead-up to the tea break. But the Indian bowlers had ensured the game didn’t get out of their grasp and reduced the Proteas to 179/7.
At that stage, Marco Jansen and Keshav Maharaj were at the crease and South Africa were still trailing by 23 runs. There was a risk of them being bowled out under 200 and conceding a lead. But Jansen and Maharaj helped them gain a handy lead. Maharaj was the one who did the early scoring and got 21 off 29 balls before Bumrah knocked him over. Jansen then swung his bat around and struck a few boundaries to take South Africa to 229, gaining a 27-run lead.
Shardul Thakur rules with 7/61
Shardul Thakur’s place in the side has regularly been questioned but the Mumbai-born seamer has constantly put in performances and shut his critics. He’s done that on multiple occasions with the bat and has timely produced wickets with the ball. But here in this Test, he dominated his way through.
He bowled just one ball on day one and that was also because of the injury to Mohammed Siraj. And he wasn’t introduced into the attack for the first 18 overs of the day. Once Thakur came on to bowl in the 37th over of the innings (which was about half an hour before lunch), he bowled with great control and discipline. He was the one who got the breakthrough and broke the 74-run stand for the second wicket.
He took three wickets in that brief period in the lead-up to the lunch interval to break open the game for India. Thakur later came back to dismiss Kyle Verreynne and break the 60-run stand between before picking up the key scalp of Bavuma. He then wrapped up the innings by picking up the wickets of Jansen and Ngidi.
Cheteshwar Pujara leads India’s rebuilding in the second innings
After failing in the first innings, this was a huge innings for both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. They have been under constant pressure and another failure may well have led to their axing. With India reduced to 44/2 and the lead just 17, India were in a spot of bother.
But Pujara led the way and Rahane remained stoic at the other end. The India No. 3 was fluent and confident with the way he batted. He played his shots and kept the scoreboard ticking. He put the pressure back on the South African bowlers as he raced away to an unbeaten 35 off 42 balls. Rahane at the other end helped himself to 11 off 22 balls. The duo remained unbeaten at stumps and have an unbroken stand of 41. But their job isn’t done yet and they will be the key for India going into day three.