India Vs South Africa 2nd Test: Virat-Less India Totter In Johannesburg!


It came as shocker just before the start of the 2nd Test between India and South Africa at the Wanderers in Johannesburg that India captain Viral Kohli was not playing due to back pain and that KL Rahul would lead India as the stand-in test captain for the first time. Rahul won the toss and confirmed the news about Virat and that Hanuma Vihari was the replacement. Only a day back head coach Rahul Dravid lauded Virat’s performances ‘despite the noise’ and that the team would keep up the intensity to win. Something was just not right simply due to the reason as to why should a leading team lose its intensity, considering the fact that India had never lost at this venue before and registered two of the three victories over the Proteas so far here. Whatever be the actual reasons for whatever is happening in the dressing rooms it is bad news for Indian cricket. Out-of-form Pujara gets another chance and Vihari gets a berth in place of the captain himself. India elected to bat and what followed was a near collapse by the Indian batsmen.


India were off to a relatively good start thanks to Mayank Agarwal getting 26 runs in 37 balls before falling to a charged-up Marco Jansen caught behind; except him most other batsmen of the top order got into a shell and only KL Rahul stood guard getting his half-century in 133 balls. On the bouncy Wanderers pitch Duanne Olivier who was finally fit and coming back into the team replacing Mulder struck two vital blows—first he captured Pujara’s wicket and the next ball sent back Rahane for a first-ball duck—was on a hat-trick streak. The out-of-form Pujara who had a special responsibility in the absence of Kohli struggled pitifully for his 3 runs in 33 balls. Rahane who seemed to be coming back to form in the Centurion Test also failed. It was thanks to a rearguard action by R Ashwin (46 valuable runs) and vice-captain Bumrah (14 not out) that India could cross the 200-run mark. Jansen went on to capture 4 wickets while Olivier and Rabada got three each. India were all out for just 202 runs.


The way the Indian pacers have been performing in recent times the reply by South Africa was therefor far from easy. They lost Aiden Markram early on to Mohammed Shami at the team score of 14. Skipper Dean Elgar and Keegan Peterson saw the team through the day with unbeaten 11 and 14 runs respectively with the team score at 35/1 at stumps on day-1 in 18 overs. Tomorrow is going to be a crucial day for both teams. If South Africa go past 300 runs India would be in lot of trouble and if India can contain the Proteas around 250 runs the match would be set up perfectly for an absorbing finish. India’s failing middle order has continued to torment the team and if they entertain any chance of winning this match both the top and middle order must fire. They just cannot go on depending on the bowlers to boost the batting effort almost every time.


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