India vs South Africa: Virat Kohli’s fighting knock keeps hosts at bay | cricket | Hindustan Times
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India vs South Africa: Virat Kohli’s fighting knock keeps hosts at bay

Virat Kohli batted through the day and put a price on his wicket even as the Indian cricket team lost half their side on Day 2 of the second Test vs South Africa at Centurion.

cricket Updated: Jan 14, 2018 23:44 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Virat Kohli’s half-century steadied the Indian cricket team’s ship after the fall of quick wickets on Day 2 of the second Test at Centurion.
Virat Kohli’s half-century steadied the Indian cricket team’s ship after the fall of quick wickets on Day 2 of the second Test at Centurion. (REUTERS)

It is tough to say after two days which way the second Test will go, but India skipper Virat Kohli can proclaim that he walked the talk as far as showing intent is concerned (SOUTH AFRICA vs INDIA LIVE UPDATES)

On a good pitch at the SuperSport Park on Sunday, Kohli arrived at the crease with India 28/2 and praying that their best batsman could ward off danger from the South Africa fast bowlers. Scathing criticism over team selection with even Virender Sehwag training guns on the skipper had put him under pressure.(SOUTH AFRICA vs INDIA LIVE SCORECARD)

However, Kohli was unfazed, composing a balanced innings to remain 85 not out to guide India to 183/5, which kept India very much in the game. At stumps, India were 152 runs behind South Africa’s first innings 335 all out, with the hosts having failed to get the biggest fish.

South Africa had their chances though. Kohli was needling with a few deliveries he should have left alone. And then there was the confident review after debutant fast bowler Lungi Ngidi struck Kohli’s pad as he walked across the stumps. What the Proteas didn’t hear though was a faint inside edge before the ball thudded into his pads.

SKIPPER’S RESOLVE

Fortune favours the brave, and Kohli was rewarded for showing the resolve to stay on top of his shots. Considering the height of the South Africa bowlers, it was an adjustment -- later adopted by Hardik Pandya too -- worth taking note of. With a big stride, Kohli tried to bring his head over the point where his bat met the ball while going for a push or drive through covers. It wasn’t as if he was always attacking the bowlers, but the focus was evident.

His 50 came off just 68 deliveries and had seven fours. The next 35 runs came in 62 deliveries with one boundary. Kohli did not play a single aerial shot, depending largely on his brisk running between the wickets while none of his teammates scored a 50.

Murali Vijay came close though. As long as he was leaving deliveries and going after the loose ones, the India opener looked solid. But trying to cut left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj when the delivery was not short enough caused his doom.

RAHUL ROOTED

This happened after 79 runs were added for the third wicket. Before that, KL Rahul stayed back in his crease to hit Morne Morkel’s rising delivery straight back to the pacer.

Cheteshwar Pujara was expected to go about his business -- dig in, leave deliveries and make India feel secure at one end -- till the bowlers tired for him to accelerate. But the load of intent probably weighed too heavy on Pujara to stay his natural self.

So, off he went for a risky single the first ball of his innings, pushing towards mid-on and taking off, only for Ngidi to catch him just short at the non-strikers’ end with just one stump to aim.

Rohit Sharma was expected to fare better on this pitch but he played the wrong line to Kagiso Rabada and was struck on the back pad to be caught plumb in front. Parthiv Patel tried to score quickly but Ngidi dismissed him with a beauty.

However, Kohli didn’t give in to any more temptations, living to fight another day that could decide the fate of this series.