Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya can take the game away from South Africa: Ishant Sharma | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya can take the game away from South Africa: Ishant Sharma

Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya can take the game away from the South African cricket team if they get going, said Ishant Sharma after Day 2 of the second Test at Centurion.

cricket Updated: Jan 15, 2018 10:10 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Virat Kohli can take the game away from South Africa, believes Ishant Sharma.
Virat Kohli can take the game away from South Africa, believes Ishant Sharma. (AP)

The Indian cricket team have lost five wickets, which debutant pacer Lungi Ngidi said South Africa were happy to accept. However, his seasoned counterpart Ishant Sharma feels the partnership between Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya could take the game away from the hosts in the second Test. (IND v SA highlights)

“The way Virat is playing, it is totally a different game. And if Hardik gets going, he can take the game away from the opposition. He backs his strength totally and I am hopeful he will take the game away from South Africa,” Ishant said after the second day’s play at the SuperSport Park on Sunday. (IND v SA scorecard)

Evenly poised

India still trail South Africa by 152 runs, but Ishant feels the Test is finely balanced. “It was a pretty even day. We bowled them out pretty easily (335); on this kind of a wicket, it was a good effort by the bowlers. At 170/5, it was a pretty even day for both the teams.”

Both camps have been taken aback by the way the SuperSport Park pitch has behaved, playing rather slow, and a far cry from the pitch for the first Test in Cape Town.

“We expected there would be bounce on the wicket. First day the wicket was quite slow, slow as in it was two-paced,” said Ishant. “On such wickets, you have to be very disciplined, so we did that. After tea (on Day 1), the run out (of Hashim Amla) by Hardik was a game changer for us.”

‘No Centurion pitch’

Ngidi, the local player, agreed a typical Centurion pitch would have more bounce. “Seeing how the wickets fell is a good representation of how it is not a (usual) Centurion pitch,” he said.

“Usually at Centurion, the wickets are caught behind. The slips come into play a lot, and that hasn’t happened, which tells you then and there it’s not a typical Centurion pitch. I still think our bowlers have done pretty well on it. We’ve hit the wicket pretty hard and been able to get a bit of carry. All in all, it’s not what we were thinking we were going to get, but it’s what we’ve got.”

Asked what the way out was on such a difficult pitch for the bowlers, Ngidi stressed on the need to stay patient. “We’ve hit that fifth stump line over and over again and wait for the batsman to make a play. There have been a few balls where it has held up in the wicket, so there are catches around the bat. Those are the methods we are looking at,” he said.