Stand-in captain KL Rahul scored a gutsy half-century but could not convert that into a big knock as another shoddy display by Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane left India in a troublesome 146 for 5 at tea on the opening day of the second Test against South Africa, here Monday.With skipper Virat Kohli ruled out of the match due to back spasm, Rahul (50 off 133 balls) was patience-personified on a bouncy and seaming Wanderers track before one pull shot ended his gritty knock in the post-lunch session.
The Indian skipper for the game hit nine boundaries and he mostly played the short ball well. He kept his pull shots down the ground and drove well before Marco Jansen (2/18) induced from a pull shot that went into Kagiso Rabada’s hands at fine leg.He had nice little partnership of 42 runs between him and Hanuma Vihari (20) before an inspirational close-in catch from Rassie Van der Dussen at short leg sent the latter back.
Rishabh Pant (13) and an attacking Ravichandran Ashwin (24 batting 21 balls) added 30 in quick time as India aimed to get at least a total between 225 to 250 in the first innings.It was Duanne Olivier who dismissed out-of-form batters Pujara and Rahane off successive balls to leave Virat Kohli-less India reeling in the first session.Having given up hopes of playing for England, Olivier, who played his first Test in Proteas colour after three years, removed Pujara (3 off 33 balls) with extra bounce and then with slight seam movement had Rahane (0) caught at slips.
Olivier (2/47) bowled multiple spells after being given the new ball alongside Kagiso Rabada.Mayank Agarwal (26) looked fluent in the first hour with five boundaries before Marco Jansen pitched one in the spot from where it wasn’t on drivable length as it climbed on. The opener went for a drive only to edge that to wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne.Rahul on his part survived strong caught behind and leg before appeals which were negated by debutant umpire Allahudien Palekar, someone who impressed on debut.
The start wasn’t great for India as they could not have skipper Kohli in the playing XI due to back spasms but Rahul couldn’t blamed for electing to bat first and make best use of difficult conditions.Till Agarwal was giving him company, the openers just like Centurion, looked good but once he was gone, Pujara once again got into a shell and was very uncomfortable against steep bounce which finally became his undoing.
Olivier’s natural back of length deliveries were perfect recipe for disaster as he fended one that was wide of short leg fielder but the next one lobbed up to point fielder for an easy catch.Rahane’s dismissal was that of a player, whose confidence has been torn to pieces. The ball pitched on fourth stump channel with a shade cut-back that creates indecision on whether to play or not. Rahane dangled his bat and the catch was taken in the slips.