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Tuesday, Sep 29th

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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).

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South Africa suffered a potentially disastrous double run out for the second time in six months against India as the visitors arguably had the better of day one when the second Sunfoil Freedom Test match got underway at SuperSport Park on Saturday.

In the closing hour that bore an uncanny reminder of what happened in the ICC Champions Trophy in England last year the Proteas went from a comfortable and controlling 246/3 to 269/6 at the close.

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Vernon Philander took the final three India second innings wickets in the space of four balls – the first with a sensational catch by Quinton de Kock standing up to the stumps – to snuff out any thought of a final twist in the tale of the first Sunfoil Test match at PPC Newlands on Monday to clinch a 72-run victory for the Proteas.

Prior to Philander’s triple strike there was just a chance that India might pull off an improbable win as Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar put together an eighth-wicket stand of 49 after India had collapsed to 82/7 in pursuit of a victory target of 208 which was only one run short of what they had managed in the first innings.

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AB de Villiers seized the moment on day one of the first Sunfoil Test match at PPC Newlands when he carved Bhuvneshwar Kumar for four boundaries in his fifth over at a stage when the seamer was threatening to run through the Standard Bank Proteas top-order.

On day two it was the turn of Hardik Pandya to do something similar when he launched a brilliant counter-attack starting with the three boundaries he took from an over from Vernon Philander whom most of his batting colleagues had found almost unplayable.

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Dale Steyn has been ruled out of bowling in the ongoing Sunfoil Test match against India due to a heel injury sustained on the second day of play at PPC Newlands on Saturday. The fast bowler landed awkwardly in footmarks while bowling shortly before the tea break, with subsequent scans confirming tissue damage to the foot.

A decision on Steyn’s availability to bat will be made in consultation with the medical committee as the match progresses.

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Just who had the better of day one of the Freedom Series at PPC Newlands on Friday will in all probability not be clarified until well into day two. The Proteas found themselves on 12/3 after winning the toss and deciding to bat first under hazardous conditions to three testing overs from Bhuvneshwar Kumar but critically still had AB de Villiers at the crease.

The Proteas returning warrior launched a calculated counter-attack that set the mood for the rest of the innings as he and his captain, Faf du Plessis, shared a stand of 114 that enabled the Proteas to score 107/3 in the first session and then 123/4 in the second.

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All-rounder, Chris Morris, has been added to the Standard Bank Proteas squad for the first Sunfoil Test match against India starting at PPC Newlands on January 5th. Morris has recovered from a groin injury and replaces fast bowler, Duanne Olivier, in the 15-man squad. This selected squad is only for the first match of the 2018 Freedom Series.

The Proteas will assemble in Cape Town on January 2nd to begin preparations for the first Test of the three-match series.

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