2nd Test: SA 269/6 at stumps on Day 1

Sunday, 14 Jan, 2018

Coming into the match 1-0 up, South Africa chose to bat first and made an excellent start to their innings as Dean Elgar and Markram amassed an 85-run partnership, during which Markram brought up his fifty, before Elgar was caught by Murali Vijay off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin for 31. Amla, batting on 30 then, was lucky to survive as Parthiv Patel dropped him off Ishant in the 51st over, the ball going down leg side after the batsman edged it.

"It looks likely a really lively pitch". And as it turned out, Ishant was the only bowler who looked the part creating doubts in batsmen's minds with surprise lifters. I also don't understand why Ishant came in for Bhuvneshwar when he had taken three wickets on an opening day at Cape Town.

There is not as noticeable a green tinge on this wicket compared to what there was in Cape Town, and that suggests less seam movement for the quicks. If that was no confusing enough, Parthiv was also seen fine-tuning his wicket-keeping skills. Vernon Philander (0) was then run-out on the last ball of the 83rd over as he set off for a run even as du Plessis called no from the non-striker's end.

"It was a reality check in terms of not being able to win a Test match for the country on day five when all things were actually set up for a spinner". Before the first Test no-one thought that he should be in the eleven and now suddenly people are looking at the other option.

"The team we selected last week was the right team and it worked pretty well", said Du Plessis. Both players ended up on the same side of the wicket.

With only de Villiers offering a fightback, South Africa's lower order did not trouble India. I'm not saying that Ajinkya can not or will not start in this game. "When you are playing at home you play to your strengths and at the moment we have some high-quality fast bowlers".

"Hindsight is a very easy teacher", said Ashwin when asked if he missed Jadeja. "I expect they will take a lot of positives from the game and I expect another huge performance from them".

"You still have to have a solid technique and go out there and be ready to face". We need to embrace that.

"So, I don't think anyone needs to panic on that front and as far as your opening combination goes, we are going to decide at the end of the practice session today", the skipper said.

It all suggests that this Test will go longer than three days. That's one reason why we have won many games in the past is because we have applied ourselves really well. Though Amla prefers the latter, a trickier pitch demanded more application from him, just the sort of thing he needed to find his fight again.

"If you want to beat the best team in the world, which India are, then maybe we have to do something slightly different to what we've done in the past", Gibson told reporters in the wake of the victory at Newlands. Anything less than a win will jeopardise India's chance in the series.