India started Day 2 where they left off on Day 1, continuing to dominate and torture South Africa’s bowlers.
Worryingly for South Africa, the ball was starting to keep low early on Day 2, but for two set batsmen, this was not a problem as they batted all the way to a score of over 300 before South Africa finally took a wicket.
Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal had put on 317 for the opening stand, which was the third highest opening stand for India.
Sharma made a blistering 176 before Agarwal stole the show with his sublime maiden double century, demonstrating the levels of concentration and patience required at this level.
Keshav Maharaj was the one that came to the rescue with the initial breakthrough, as he removed Sharma late in the first session of Day 2.
Maharaj bowled 55 overs compared to his spinning counterparts, Dane Piedt (19) & Senuran Muthusamy (15). He is going to be exhausted at the end of this innings, never mind this Test.
Despite Muthusamy picking up his maiden Test wicket, and that too of Virat Kohli, it doesn’t seem feasible that both he and Piedt will play any further part in this series. Especially given the fact that when Dean Elgar was finally given the ball, he struck in his first (and only) over.
Calls were made on social media from Day 1 already for Faf to give the part-time bowling of Dean Elgar a try, and once Agarwal reached his double ton, Elgar was finally given the ball and immediately struck with the wicket of Agarwal, leading everyone and myself to ask, why did it take till the 120th over?
Dane Piedt has had an absolutely horrific Test so far, showing no signs of consistency or execution as he leaked too many runs, going at 7 an over at one point.
Elgar should be given more responsibility with the ball in the next Test, which would allow for an extra seamer, like Ngidi or Nortje to come in, along with a sepcialised batsman in Zubayr Hamza to strengthen the batting.
That provides a more balanced team.
Virat Kohli finally declared when India had reached 502-7, giving the Proteas a tough 20 overs to bat in the final session.
Graeme Smith on commentary couldn’t stop stressing the point of application at the crease. South Africa’s batsmen could deal with the slight uneven bounce if they just applied themselves was the take home message.
That didn’t happen.
Aiden Markram’s struggles against spin continued as he was bowled by a beauty from Ravi Ashwin for 5. Then the typical story of South Africa against spin resumed with the wickets of Theunis de Bruyn (5) and nightwatchman Dane Piedt (0) both dismissed in the space of six balls.
I do not agree with a nightwatchman. What makes anyone think a lower order batsman has the skill set to cope against world class bowling over a top order batsman?
Sending in Piedt when two spinners, who have been instrumental to India’s success at home are in full flight, seems nonsensical to me. Faf is the captain of the side, and is arguably the best player of spin, he should have joined Elgar at the fall of the 2nd wicket and shown his team, his fans, and his opponents that he was leading from the front and taking responsibility.
Bavuma (2*) and Elgar (27*) ended the day on 39-3. They will resume tomorrow and continue their trial by spin as they have a long struggle ahead of them to avoid the follow-on.
South Africa though can’t give up without a fight. That’s what we want to see: some character, some fight, some passion.
I hope we aren’t asking too much.