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Virat Kohli rides luck to score gutsy 54 in final Test vs South Africa

Virat Kohli is currently the highest run-getter of the ongoing India vs South Africa three-Test series.

cricket Updated: Jan 24, 2018 17:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
Virat Kohli,India vs South Africa,South Africa vs India
India's captain Virat Kohli watches his shot on the first day of the third Test vs South Africa at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Wednesday.(AP)

India captain Virat Kohli rode his luck and guts to score one of his most difficult fifties against a relentless all-pace attack of South Africa on the first day of the third Test, here on Wednesday. Helped by an astounding nine boundaries, Kohli took 101 balls to reach his 16th international fifty before he was dismissed by Lungi Ngidi on 54. (India v South Africa blog | Scorecard)

This innings was nowhere close to Kohli’s best but taking into consideration the situation when he came to bat, this fifty certainly got India back on track after they lost both openers very early. Overhead conditions and a seam friendly pitch made batting very difficult but Kohli wasn’t ready to get bogged down, even if it meant giving the South Africa bowlers few chances. And they had at least four.

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First, Vernon Philander dropped Kohli after it seemed he had got the hang of his miscued pull of Kagiso Rabada. Ngidi then induced an inside edge while Kohli was trying to leave but the ball thudded into his pad.

AB de Villiers, of all fielders, then dropped a sitter when Kohli chased a very short and wide delivery from Morne Morkel and only got the toe-end of the bat to connect. In Morkel’s next over, Kohli got an inside edge that flew just above his stumps.

In between though, Kohli kept scoring the way he likes to, planting his foot as close to the pitch of the ball and going for drives. That fetched him his first boundary, off Rabada. By the time Kohli had scored his next boundary, again off Rabada, he had already been dropped by Philander and came close to edging the seamers on multiple occasions.

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Kohli wasn’t on top of the bowlers for a long time. This pitch didn’t allow that to happen. But by encashing the loose deliveries and not taking a step back, he delivered a strong message to South Africa. He reached his fifty with a boundary after pulling Rabada, who possibly was the toughest bowler he had faced all day. The way he was playing though, Kohli was bound to give more opportunities.

South Africa seamers continued to pitch up the ball, hoping Kohli would again go for a drive. And he did too. This time though, de Villiers didn’t miss, falling back trying to pouch the bullet that came off Kohli’s bat to end a brave innings.

First Published: Jan 24, 2018 17:49 IST