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Tuesday, Oct 22nd

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You are here: Cricket Test Cricket Kohli's 85* keeps India in the game after top order crumbles again

Kohli's 85* keeps India in the game after top order crumbles again

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India returned some of the largesse that the Proteas had dished out to them on day one as the two battled for first innings superiority on day two of the second Sunfoil Freedom Test match at SuperSport Park on Sunday.

India’s key initial target was to remove the remaining four Proteas first innings wickets as quickly as possible when play resumed but they made life hard for themselves as they missed two chances offered by Kagiso Rabada and one by Faf du Plessis as the latter rallied the home side’s lower order to the extent that they put on 83 runs for the last four wickets, 66 of which were scored on the second morning as Du Plessis completed 17th career half-century (63 off 142 balls, 9 fours).

For good measure one of their key batsmen, Cheteshwar Pujara, was then run out by a brilliant direct hit from debutant Lungi Ngidi who only had one stump to aim at from a position on his knees.

The Proteas total of 335 was probably more than India wanted to concede from the overnight 269/6 and it became worth a lot more when the Indian top order with the exception of Virat Kohli crumbled as they reached the close on 183/5, still trailing by 152 runs on the first innings.

Kohli, scoring at a rate that no other batsman has managed to achieve in this match, played a real captain’s knock reaching stumps on 85 (130 balls, 8 fours) with his 21st Test century well in his sights.

The Proteas seamers did a magnificent job on a surface that gave them nothing with Morne Morkel getting the first breakthrough with a rare return catch that gave him his 50th Test wicket against India.

Kagiso Rabada put in a sustained spell that included the wicket of Rohit Sharma but nobody did better than Ngidi who bowled spells of four and five overs respectively of sustained pace, aggression and accuracy that earned him Parthiv Patel as his maiden Test wicket.

For good measure he joined the fast bowlers hall of fame of those who sent down a delivery in excess of 150km/h on the Test match stage.

Whichever way the rest of the match unfolds the Proteas will know they have unleashed yet another exciting fast bowling talent who also has the heart and the temperament for the job. When he gets on a traditional South African home pitch such as the one that is likely to await him at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in a week or so’s time, he is going to become a serious threat.

He troubled Kohli more than any of the other South African bowlers which is a testimony on its own, coming close to getting him leg before wicket on a couple of occasions and beating the outside edge as well.

Tomorrow’s first session is going to be critical as any kind of substantial lead for the Proteas is going to be worth gold with uneven bounce already coming into play.