All systems go for Centurion test match

Mindy Sparks
January 13, 2018

Work he did, proudly listing on Saturday the changes he made: Making his action more fluid and "repeatable", changing his wrist position and adding a few different deliveries to his repertoire, including "the flipper". Two balls later, Quinton de Kock edged his first ball to slip, giving Ashwin his third wicket. Ishant got Amla in a tangle with a ball down the legside but a diving Parthiv couldn't hold on with the batsman on 31, and it seemed like an opportunity missed when not many would be coming.

If there had been any hope within the Indian camp that the SuperSport Park surface might offer a reprieve, they will be left sorely disappointed with another fast track expected - so much so that South Africa are debating leaving out spinner Keshav Maharaj to go in with an all-seam attack.

India finally managed to get a breakthrough in the third over after the break and it came from the off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (3-90), who had Elgar caught at silly point and despite starting the innings with caution, Amla (82) slowly settled in.

It is ironic that one of the three chances India's fast bowlers created all day long was for a catch down the leg side, which, of course, was dropped by the wicketkeeper, playing this match because of a late hamstring niggle to the first-choice wicketkeeper, whose batting happens to have not looked good against pace and bounce in the last Test.

Captain Kohli made several changes in the squad with KL Rahul, Ishant Sharma and Parthiv Patel returning to the side in place of Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Wriddhiman Saha.

Jasprit Bumrah, in his second Test, was elevated to new-ball bowler and failed to impress, bleeding 18 runs in his second spell of two overs.

In contrast, his opening partner Dean Elgar (26*) continues to struggle to find fluency in his game in 2018.

The openers were unseparated at lunch, but shortly after, Ashwin finally broke through Elgar's stubbornness, with the opener stepping out and pushing at the ball that Vijay latched on to, close in. That was Amla's first life. He always asking the right questions and he sets smart fields. There was to be no century.

Markram (94) and Amla (82) had helped the hosts to 246-3 before two run outs - one brilliant, one kamikaze - contributed to the hosts closing on 269-6 at SuperSport Park. It took a referral for the verdict to come, and when it did the Indian team was jubilant. AB de Villiers was out for 20, played on to seamer Ishant Sharma.

The hosts' misery was compounded when Vernon Philander was also out without scoring, charging down the wicket for a run as Du Plessis screamed at him from the non-striker's end to stop. The letdowns were Bumrah (0/57 in 18 overs) and Shami (46 in 11 overs).

However, two run-outs and a wicket by Ashwin within 13 balls saw South Africa slump from 246/3 to 251/6 as India sought to wrest control of the match while somewhat masking a couple of questionable selections in the playing XI.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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