India endured a hard opening to day one of the second Test against South Africa but thanks to some late wickets will feel well in the contest. Ashwin hinted that they may have missed a trick by not picking Ravindra Jadeja but added that since South Africa too had picked just one spinner, it would make sense to debate it after the game finishes.
Markram who was dismissed six runs shy of his third century became the second-fastest South African to score 500 runs after five test matches.
Proteas Captain Faf du Plessis was in a jovial mood on the eve of the second Test match against India at SuperSport Park in Centurion. If India have to rely on their spinner and their support bowler and his fielding, they can still mess up this opportunity. But such counter-attacking and full-of-risk knock does not not pay off always and captain Virat Kohli and chief coach Ravi Shastri know that.
Contrary to reports, the pitch at SuperSport Park showed no signs of trickery and the home batsmen made the most of its benign nature. The hosts have not lost at this venue since 2014. He came in the side in place of injured Dale Steyn. All-rounder Chris Morris though is expected to take that slot. Ashwin's three wickets have already had some impact but exactly how much of a say both he and Keshav Maharaj will have on this game may ultimately affect the assessment of groundsman Bryan Bloy's maiden Test strip.
To stand up to the pacers, Indian batsmen have a lot of areas to improve upon. In the first hour of the Test, India were reduced to asking Pandya to hide the ball well outside off, which he did as ordered.
Kohli, he revealed, had walked up to him after his dismissal and said, "Well played, you were unlucky to get out.' It was a great gesture from him".
India however won't be taking any solace from its record at this ground, having played only one Test match and losing it by an innings and 25 runs.
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Calls for the inclusion of Ajinkya Rahane, known for his quiet approach, instead of fellow Mumbaikar Rohit Sharma have grown over the few days. The experienced left-hander stepped out of the crease but his uppish drive to a rising delivery from Ashwin went to close-in fielder Murali Vijay.
If Kohli wins the toss, opting to bowl will be obvious option.
He dealt with disdain whenever the Indian pace bowlers erred in line and length and was also good against Ashwin.
Luck did not go India's way in the first match, despite fighting efforts from the bowlers, including the pace quartret of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya.
Markram admitted South Africa "didn't expect there would be so much assistance for him (Ashwin)", which made him a tricky prospect first up.
KL Rahul and Ishant Sharma replaced Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, respectively. It began with Hashim Amla's run-out for 82 runs, and before long Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander also found themselves back in the dressing room without opening their account.