Суббота, 20 Января, 2018

Markram half-century helps South Africa off to good start

Jasprit Bumrah Jasprit Bumrah celebrates after claiming a wicket in Cape Town Test
Noah Ferguson | 14 Января, 2018, 02:28

After all the talk of the pace and bounce of the Highveld, Centurion ended up providing India the most subcontinental conditions they could have expected on this tour. First, on 14, he whipped Ashwin to the left of Pandya at short midwicket and the fielder got a hand to it but could not hold the catch.

That could have been the extent of India feeling at home.

India fought back in the last session in which 37 overs were bowled, 87 runs scored and 4 wickets were taken.

There was one positive from the session for top-ranked India, which trails 1-0 in the three-match series and must win at SuperSport Park to have a chance at a first series victory in South Africa.

And then, Centurion 2018 turned into Kolkata 2010.

Markram's timing was crisp, and in front of his parents and his home crowd in his city of birth, he looked like he could bat all day.

After test tons against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe since his September debut, Markram now also has two scores in the 90s having made a fine start to his five-day career as the answer to South Africa's long-running issues with the opening position.

"They could have played Ishant in place of any other bowler".

Bumrah showed signs of learning in that match, improving vastly from the first innings to the second, mainly by shortening his length.

Both of those knocks oozed quality and the Indian bowlers - particularly the seamers - were made to toil on a day that saw temperatures rising to the mid-30s.

The hosts' misery was compounded when Vernon Philander was also out without scoring, charging down the wicket for a run as Du Plessis screamed at him from the non-striker's end to stop. From around the wicket, Ashwin got Markram to send a thin edge to the keeper, dismissing him in the nineties for the second time in only seven Test innings. New to the crease, de Kock pushed at it without really moving his feet and edged to slip.

Talking about South Africa's settled batting line-up and AB de Villiers' contribution, the skipper said: "One less batsman makes your responsibility on the top six a little bit more".

For most of the first eight-ninths of this day, India's voices had been muted.

"While I don't think the team is mentally down after the Cape Town defeat, South Africa will have their tails up". Taking guard on off stump, he stood tall and stood still at the crease, making no trigger movement and as a result remaining perfectly balanced. However, the Ishant-Bhuvneshwar swap is still not confirmed even though the other two changes are more or less certain.

And while he knew that things would be different this time around with groundsman Bryan Bloy asked to look after the fast bowlers, Markram still expects the Centurion wicket to be "less crazy" than what the batters were given at Newlands.

He is among the only three Indian batsmen in global cricket, who has got hundreds across all formats, apart from Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma. What we usually see on day one out here is tennis ball like bounce and batsmen prefer batting first out here. It is in keeping with the team management's belief that this was the optimal choice for the first Test, never mind a lack of practice or collapsing for 135 in the second innings.

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