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AB de Villiers pegs India back in Centurion after Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah heroics

AB de Villiers kept South Africa on top after Virat Kohli’s fighting ton and Jasprit Bumrah’s double strike for India in the Centurion Test

cricket Updated: Jan 15, 2018 23:49 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Centurion
South Africa vs India,Virat Kohli,Hardik Pandya
AB de Villiers’ unbeaten 50 helped South Africa wrest back initiative of the Centurion Test against India at the end of Day 3 on Monday.(REUTERS)

Virat Kohli’s 21st Test century and Jasprit Bumrah’s early two-wicket burst should have put creases on South Africa captain Faf du Plessis’ forehead. But AB de Villiers again guided them out of turmoil with a brisk unbeaten fifty to leave the second Test in balance at the SuperSport Park on Monday. (South Africa vs India 2nd Test Day 3 Updates)

That and a missed catch -- off Dean Elgar -- by wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel meant South Africa sauntered to an overall lead of 118 runs when bad light stopped play after a brief but sharp spell of rain on the third day. (South Africa vs India 2nd Test Day 3 Scores)

Kohli looked aggrieved having to bowl with a wet ball due to the soaked outfield – the ball stopped swinging. But he should be more peeved with the way India have wasted chances in this series.

Had Parthiv gone for the ball after Elgar, on 29, was induced into poking Bumrah’s third ball after resumption, India would have gained an immediate edge. Instead of owning up to his mistake, Parthiv -- he had dropped Hashim Amla in the first innings -- pointed at wide first slip Cheteshwar Pujara, indicating it was his catch.

That was still pardonable compared to Hardik Pandya’s shocking run out due to complacence. He assumed Vernon Philander won’t go for the stumps at the striker’s end after Kohli had turned down a non-existent single. Pandy casually tried to regain safety, and replays showed his foot and bat were within the crease but still in the air when the stumps were disturbed.

Ashwin digs in

The only good thing to come out of it was R Ashwin’s arrival. Kagiso Rabada tested him with short-pitched stuff but Ashwin got through that turbulence to raise 50 runs off 62 deliveries. That stand added 71 runs. Ishant Sharma hung around for 20 balls to allow Kohli to get India past 300 and score 153 before being the last man out.

This was one of Kohli’s finest knocks under pressure, a well compiled innings that witnessed more runs created off dabs through the off and behind point than boundaries.

Kohli had started from where he had left on Sunday. Two consecutive boundaries off Lungi Ngidi, an edge past gully followed by a crunching front-foot drive through covers got him into the 90s. He reached his hundred after tapping the ball to midwicket for two runs though the second, due to an overthrow, interrupted his celebration.

Kohli’s control

That he was completely in control of his batting was evident in how he walked into Philander to drive him for a sublime boundary before lunch. But wickets falling around him meant he couldn’t afford to hang around. Still, he scored at a strike rate of over 70, pushing the total as much as possible before holing out to de Villiers at long-on to be last man out.

When Bumrah snared Aiden Markram and Amla, Kohli was bubbling with anticipation. Bumrah’s short of length delivery to Markram skidded in to trap him plumb in front. Amla misjudged the length of Bumrah’s delivery, trying to flick from deep inside the crease, to be trapped in front.

De Villiers looked to take the attack to India while Elgar struggled to cope with Ashwin’s spin and bounce. His fifty had six fours but more important was how de Villiers rotated the strike and didn’t allow pressure to build on Elgar. Key to turning things around in the Cape Town Test, de Villiers is again shaping up to play a similar innings.

India would have been happy with one more wicket and at least 20-30 more runs, but they now know dismissing de Villiers is vital to staying alive in this Test.

First Published: Jan 15, 2018 16:00 IST