India, SA 1st Test: Elgar wrecks hosts, spinners strike back
India lost no opportunity in bringing R Ashwin straight up, Ashwin delivered promptly by trapping van Zyl in the 7th over and Jadeja castled Faf du Plessis on his very second ball to put the pressure squarely back on the Proteas.cricket Updated: Nov 05, 2015 20:12 IST
The high promise of a high-octane contest in the backdrop of a swelling hype, Day 1 at Mohali turned anti-climactic on a pitch that let the game of cricket down. If this is the kind of cricket India had promised itself to play, then it sat incoherently with the aggressive tonality the team of late exudes. India ,however, cannot entirely be blamed for that on a pitch where even Dale Styne looked pace-impaired, ball lying as low as shin height in the third over of the day was a clear giveaway how the day is set to unfold.
The demand for turner can have damaging effect on any side , India must consider itself lucky that they were batting first and consumed lesser damage and a deeper uncertainty awaits South Africa on day 2. While the modern day cricket is challenging the old order, with run rate hovering below 3 runs per over right from the morning till post -tea, the mistake probably a scant crowd at Mohali made that they ended up watching 80’s cricket, while the hope was to watch some modern day Test cricket. South Africa innings even stuttered below 2 runs per over. The general demotivation of a low turn out can only be understood if this snail-paced cricket keeps coming back to demotivate them further. Edges and nudges ruled the day and the tweakers beamed all day long.
South Africa normally are not comfortable bowling Dean Elgar in the ODIs let alone in Test matches, and it did seem like in Elgar they found a Michael Clarke of Mumbai-2004. Elgar proved his captain wrong when Amla on the eve of the match said that he will miss JP Duminy and his off-spin. When pistols can do the job, then why use the big guns. Amla stuck to this pistol of a bowler, and Elgar from a part-timer non-threatening bowler ran a scare through the Indian batting line-up with four wickets. South Africa’s best spinning bet Imran Tahir wasn’t even introduced till 44th over. Imaginably, South Africa also thought why waste on their best man when Elgar were capable of pulling of wickets and Simon Harmer kept the noose tightened.
Greyish pitch with average deliveries moving around sub-knee height, run rate dropping below 3 for a majority of period, Steyn was looking half the bowler he is, Kohli was lucky to win the toss on his 27th birthday. Shikhar Dhawan perished to a nothing slash, feet frozen, hands indecisively flashing at the delivery too close to his body, and a duck did bring a gloomy start. Pujara appeared to be engaged in restoration work along with Murali Vijay. Pujara pulling,punching ,and whipping through mid-wicket and his dead defence temporarily conveyed that he is getting in his groove till an armer from Elgar trapped him in front of the wicket.
Virat Kohli on the eve of the match discarded the whole debate around the pitch with such indifference as if what happens on the pitch—good or bad— is merely incidental. He would have to revisit his opinion on the whole pitch matter when Kagiso Rabada spoiled the birthday boy’s mood with a well-laid trap. The deadness of the pitch that induces evil leading edges, Kohli felt like a victim of it. A sense of disbelieve occupied his face that left him thinking: was it the pitch or he played his shot little too early.
Elgar then returned with a double blow by dismissing Ajinkya Rahane and Saha in two consecutive deliveries inviting edge on both occasion and Amla was snapping one after the other at slip. Only Amla knew whether it was his hunch or a game plan to introduce Elgar ahead of Imran Tahir, and Elagr kept proving his captain right. Murali Vijay who stood still seemed to have getting the hang of the wicket by playing a waiting game. Movement of feet, playing late from the crease, Vijay’s three flowing drives through cover with arms beautifully acting as an extension, Vijay was set for a spin special knock. Stepping out boldly to spinners on a trickier pitch, Vijay compiled a well-made 75. Simon Harmer the cut short a beautifully blossoming knock of Vijay.
Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin did provide a late order resistance with plenty of edges coming as potential source of run-making, but once Philander removed Jadeja (38) after persistently hitting his legs, Imran Tahir polished off the remaining wickets without breaking a sweat.
India lost no opportunity in bringing R Ashwin straight up, Ashwin delivered promptly by trapping van Zyl in the 7th over and Jadeja castled Faf du Plessis on his very second ball to put the pressure squarely back on the Proteas.
India’s turner fixation leaves two possible narrative : was that an unplayable pitch or they have forgotten to play spin on what seemed like a 4th day pitch. On either case India can’t complain.India, however, can leave with a comforting feeling for effecting two damages; Friday will tell some more of those, its a matter of interest which side received the most hits will have lot to say on the pitch.And regardless of wickets taken by the spinners, the pitch will continue to make the loudest noise till the match gets over and after too.