SA v IND, 2nd Test: Thakur, Vihari help India set 240 as target for South Africa

IANS

SA v IND, 2nd Test: Thakur, Vihari help India set 240 as target for South Africa

Johannesburg, January 5, 2022

Crucial cameos from Shardul Thakur (28) and Hanuma Vihari (40 not out) helped India set a target of 240 for South Africa on a challenging day three pitch at the Wanderers.

South Africa has never chased anything over 220 at this venue. After Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara made half-centuries and fell in the first session, Thakur and Vihari did well in taking India's lead past 200.

If Thakur had bailed India out of trouble with the ball on day two, on day three, he did the same job with the bat. Resuming with a lead of 161 at lunch, Thakur tore into Marco Jansen, hammering boundaries through cover and point.

Thakur continued to deal in boundaries off Jansen, a top-edge on hook went over the keeper for a six while the next two boundaries were lofted and pulled towards the on-side.

Thakur's lightning quick knock came to an end when he tried to pull Jansen's short ball but picked out Keshav Maharaj at deep square leg. With some byes and no-balls, India's lead swelled past 200. Jansen, after taking out Thakur, strangled Mohammed Shami down leg for a duck. Vihari and Jasprit Bumrah took a four and six respectively off Kagiso Rabada but in the next over, Lungi Ngidi took the latter out with a top-edge flying to Jansen at point.

With Mohammed Siraj struggling due to hamstring issue, Vihari farmed the strike and began to go for the kill. He made use of the short ball strategy to upper-cut over slip cordon, slap over mid-wicket with a forehand smash-like shot, hitting over extra cover and pulling over deep square leg. Ngidi ended India's innings by ratting Siraj's off-stump, leaving Vihari unconquered at a gritty 40.

Earlier, in an action-packed first session, India dominated the first hour, thanks to Rahane and Pujara cashing on South Africa's wayward lines and lengths. But the hosts' bounced back in the second session, taking four wickets while conceding 37 runs, as Rabada picked up crucial scalps of Pujara, Rahane and Rishabh Pant.

Resuming from 85/2 on day two, Pujara continued his impressive run, hitting Jansen for two fours through on-side. On the other hand, Rahane slashed Jansen with a drive through mid-off followed by a upper cut over deep point. South Africa were unable to find a consistent line and length and leaked runs as Rahane continued to smash Rabada for boundaries.

Pujara reached his fifty in 62 balls while two overs later, Rahane brought up his half-century with back-to-back boundaries through point and gully off Duanne Olivier. After the first hour of play fetched India 66 runs in 14 overs, including the partnership between Pujara and Rahane crossing the 100-run mark, South Africa bounced back in the second hour.

Rabada took the first wicket of the day, getting a delivery to kick off from a length and Rahane edged to keeper Kyle Verreynne, breaking the 111-run partnership off 144 balls. In his next over, Rabada trapped Pujara lbw with a big inswinger hitting him flush on the pads. Pujara took the review but couldn't change the decision.

Rabada then went on to remove Pant for a three-ball duck. After being beaten outside the off-stump, Rabada rattled Pant by being hit on the gloves through a ball which bounced a bit. On the very next ball, Pant stepped out to slog but gave a feather edge behind to Verreynne.

Ravichandran Ashwin hit some boundaries but was caught down the leg side by Verreynne off Ngidi. Thakur got off the mark with a four off his second ball and remained not out along with Vihari at lunch. Post that, the Indian lower-order came into play, adding 82 runs off the last four partnerships as Rabada, Jansen and Ngidi all ended with three wickets each.

Brief scores: India 202 & 266 in 60.1 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 58, Cheteshwar Pujara 53; Kagiso Rabada 3/77, Lungi Ngidi 3/43) set South Africa 229 all out in 79.4 overs (Keegan Petersen 62; Shardul Thakur 7/61) a target of 240.

IANS

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