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Rahane’s resilient knock propels India to a formidable position in Delhi

Ajinkya Rahane showed his class as other batsmen struggled on a tricky surface. (Photo Courtesy: BCCI)
Ajinkya Rahane showed his class even as the others struggled on a tricky surface. (Photo Courtesy: BCCI)

Prior to the opening day of this Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, Ajinkya Rahane had played 4 Tests on Indian soil and could only manage a highest score of 15. But all of that changed when the middle-order batsman played with immense maturity to tilt the scales back in India’s favour and enable the hosts to reach 231/7 at stumps.

His enterprising 89 steadied the home team’s batting unit after Dane Piedt had made a significant dent in the top-order. He remained unbeaten at the end of day’s play and will aim to procure the first century of the Freedom Series. Adding crucial runs with the lower-order, the soft-spoken Mumbaikar rescued India who were at one stage reduced to 139/6.

Ravindra Jadeja combined with the composed Rahane to thwart South Africa’s surge with an useful 59-run partnership for the seventh wicket. After the swashbuckling all-rounder perished, Ravichandran Ashwin continued India’s resistance by establishing another fruitful collaboration in the tail-end of the innings.

Meanwhile, South Africa captain Hashim Amla will rue several missed opportunities in the field as the Proteas once again conceded the advantage after decimating the top-order. The skipper himself dropped 2 catches, including one off Rahane and looked listless with his field placements.

On a surface which offered significant assistance to both seamers and spinners, the visitors now will have to dig deep to bring themselves back into the contest on the second day.

However, Amla will take heart from the persistent bowling effort of Kyle Abbott who impressed onlookers with his pace and accuracy. He repeatedly threatened the outside edge of Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli and bowled sharp spells.

He was unlucky to miss out on Vijay’s wicket after the 3rd umpire sided with the batsman on a no-ball call. The well-built pacer was then let down by his captain who dropped Rohit Sharma off a superb delivery. Abbott got his reward when he breached Pujara’s defence and came back to dismiss Jadeja and Saha with a nagging line.

But it was a day to rejoice for Dane Piedt who finally managed to showcase his skills by shouldering the burden for the Proteas. He sent down a mammoth 34 overs and picked up 4 wickets. The off-spinner could have had his maiden five-wicket haul if umpire Kumar Dharmasena had spotted an inside edge off Ashwin’s bat.

Piedt dismissed both openers before returning to send back Kohli with some divine intervention. The Indian captain swept hard and the ball rebounded off short leg’s body and lobbed up in the air. Dane Vilas completed the catch to silence the crowd after Kohli started showing signs of returning back to form.

Earlier, the Delhi lad won the toss again and opted to bat. Citing the hardness of the surface, he replaced Amit Mishra with Umesh Yadav. Meanwhile, the visitors made three changes as Abbott, Bavuma and Piedt came in place of Rabada, Van Zyl and Harmer.

India vs South Africa, 4th Test Brief Scores:

India 231/7 (Rahane 89*, Kohli 44, Abbott 3-23, Piedt 4-101)

 

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