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Wickets tumble rapidly as another short Test looms in Nagpur


AB De Villiers will face the toughest test of his career in Nagpur.(Photo Courtesy:
AB De Villiers will face the toughest test of his career in Nagpur.(Photo Courtesy:

Continuing with the recent trend, it turned out to be an eventful day at the VCA Stadium during the 3rd Test of the Freedom Trophy in Nagpur. On an alarmingly dry surface, the Indian batsmen managed to eke out a significant first innings total of 215 and were complemented by their spinners, who picked up two early wickets to leave the South Africans reeling at 11/2.

On winning the toss, skipper Virat Kohli had no hesitation in batting first on a pitch expected to crumble more and more as the match progresses. His opening batsmen vindicated his decision by putting on a fifty-run partnership. Murali Vijay batted with authority by punishing the erring South African seamers.

However, Shikhar Dhawan did not look assured and his uncomfortable stay ended when he lobbed a simple catch to Dean Elgar. From then on, Morne Morkel began to find the perfect length as he troubled the batsmen with his steep angle and impeccable control.

He dismissed Vijay with an unplayable delivery which seamed away at the last moment. Simon Harmer got into the act by accounting for Pujara, who was the prize scalp for Hashim Amla’s men. After lunch, Morkel returned with a frightening spell and sent back Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane in quick succession.

When come-back man Rohit Sharma’s tortured existence culminated with another scalp for Harmer, India were left teetering at 125/6. Ravindra Jadeja joined Wriddhiman Saha in a bid to repair the innings. Jadeja counter-attacked by unleashing a wide range of shots, resulting in a flurry of boundaries. Saha supported him by comfortably dealing with the spinners.

But Jadeja’s impressive cameo was brought to a halt when Kagiso Rabada’s pressuring spell led to a lapse in concentration from the flamboyant left-hander. Saha added crucial runs with the lower-order by dispatching the loose deliveries with ease. Ashwin, a shadow of his former self as a batsman struggled to come to grips with the vicious surface.

Finally, Saha ran out patience as he attempted a wild slog, which was pouched spectacularly by JP Duminy. Soon, the tail was polished off by the spinners. Despite bowling out the hosts for only 215, Hashim Amla wore a concerned look as he knew that his team had their work cut out against the spin trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Mishra.

After the change of innings, Ashwin struck in his second over with a classical delivery which proved to be too much for opener Stiaan Van Zyl to negotiate. Employing drift and side-spin, he outfoxed the left-hander to get the Indians off to a bright start.

Imran Tahir walked into survive the last few overs and protect his batsmen. But, after escaping a marginal stumping call, he was castled by Ravindra Jadeja. Amla walked into bat next and was immediately surrounded by a plethora of close-in fielders. Though he saw off the remaining deliveries, a demanding task awaits him and the rest of the South African line-up on Day 2.

India vs South Africa, 3rd Test, Nagpur – Day 1 Score: India 215 (Vijay 40, Harmer 4-78); South Africa 11/2 (Elgar 7*, Jadeja 1-2)

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