Trailing its closest challenger in the test rankings after losing in Cape Town, India made three changes to its lineup for Centurion. A bit of yes and no between Pujara and Rahul for a single and it's curtains for the former as debutant Ngidi throws the stumps down direct. Pujara, out for a duck, is short by more than a yard. They can't afford to have wickets falling in clusters like in Newlands where they hardly got any momentum. India 28/1 in the 10th over.
South Africa then crossed 300 in the 106th over, while du Plessis reached his 17th Test half-century off 127 balls. The hosts, surprisingly, opened the bowling with Maharaj. India 4/0, trail South Africa (335) by 331 runs. Two more wickets fell in the next 14 balls.
There was a lovely punched off-drive down the ground early in the day off seamer Mohammed Shami (1/58), while Du Plessis also tried not to get too bogged down by the strangling spin of Ravi Ashwin (4/113), who was twice swept aggressively for boundaries with some pinpoint placement. Rabada departs for 11. Sharma clean bowled the home captain to make sure South Africa was kept in check. India will be ruing those two dropped catches off Rabada. SA 282/7 in 99 overs. India opted for DRS review but there was no edge. He tried to move away from the strike and let Faf du Plessis take the strike for bulk of the action.
Nearly all the South Africa batsmen got starts, with only Dean Elgar (31) and AB de Villiers (20) failing to convert them into a big ones and Quinton de Kock getting out for a duck.
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But the first two sessions was all about chase the leather for the Indian fielders as the South Africa batsmen made hay.
Markram, who was raised just a few kilometres from the Centurion Park stadium, will resume after the interval on 51 along with a more cautious Dean Elgar, who has 26. While the conditions obviously are hard to tackle, they need to show some positive intent to take on the rival attack which will be preying on their perceived weakness against bounce. It looked to be a dominant day for the hosts before a mini-collapse came by. Shortly after de Kock succumbed to Ashwin and then Philander ran himself out to give the tourists the upper hand. Instead, the team chose Ishant Sharma, a bowler who has 226 wickets in 79 Tests prior to the current game.
Maharaj bowled the only possible over of the Indian innings before the break, costing four runs.
It was precisely what went wrong with Virat Kohli-led Indian unit in the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town as they suffered a 72-run defeat.