Hello and welcome to our continuing coverage of India's tour of South Africa that has reached Centurion for the second Test that begins today at 1:30 pm IST. South Africa are leading the three-match series 1-0 after their victory in Cape Town.
SOUTH AFRICA FIRST INNINGS ()
8.15 pm: There is another wicket in the next over. R Ashwin removes Quinton de Kock for a duck. South Africa 250/5
8.10 pm: It's 80 overs but India have decided not to take the new ball. Be that as it may, there is a wicket. Hardik Pandya runs out Hashim Amla for 82. Amla dabs Pandya on the off-side and is immediately off for a single. The bowler picks up the ball, turns around and in a flash hits the stumps at the non-striker's end. South Africa 250/4 in 81 overs.
7.50 pm: South Africa 239/3 in 76 overs. Amla (79), du Plessis (9) are at the crease. The proceedings are a little slow right now at SuperSport Park. The pitch is playing good and consequently, the Indian bowlers are finding it hard to get going. The visitors are now waiting for the new ball which is due in four overs.
7:05 pm: Hashim Amla (56*) gets to his half-century, and he would love it dearly after an off-game in Cape Town. He has skipper Faf du Plessis (1*) with him now as the Indians look a bit fired up on the field after De Villiers's wicket. Shouldn't go overboard, though, and stick to their task. SA 208/3
6:55 pm: Ishant strikes! Tad lucky, but India get the prized wicket of AB de Villiers (20) when he looked set to kick on for a big knock. The SA dasher chopped the lanky Indian pacer onto the ground and the ball bounced to hit the stumps. SA 199/3.
6:45 pm: That beater went straight past AB, bounced and hit Parthiv in the chest. Rohit goes to the 'keeper to chek on him. All fine in the end as South AFrica's progress raises fifty stand between De Villiers (20*) and Amla (48*). SA 199/2
6:10 pm: A far better session for India as the umpires declare tea with South Africa 182/2. Ashwin took both the wickets to get India going, but Amla (35*) and De Villiers (16*) have got their eyes in after Markram's 94. He was unfortunate to miss out on a deserving century.
5.38 pm: Ravichandran strikes again and Aiden Markram departs six runs short of a century. Big wicket for India. He is given caught behind and the batsman reviews it. Replays show the ball has taken a faint edge off his bat and Parthiv Patel takes a nice catch behind the wickets. South Africa 152/2 after 48 overs.
17.02 pm: Hardik Pandya drops Hashim Amla on 14 at short midwicket off the bowling of R Ashwin. He dove towards his left, got his fingertips but couldn't complete it. South Africa 126/1 after 40 overs.
4.49 pm: South reach 100 as Hashim Amla gets a four off the first ball of the R Ashwin over. Ashwin keeps him quiet for the rest of the over. South Africa 103/1 in 36 overs.
4:22 pm: Wicket Alert! That's exactly the start India wanted post lunch, and Ashwin provides it for Virat Kohli & Co by dimissing Elgar (31). But it needed a stupendous effort from Vijay at silly point to take that catch. SA 85/1 in 30 overs.
3:30 pm: That's lunch on the opening mark of this Test at Centurion. South Africa win this session as their openers Markram (51*) and Elgar (26*) remain unseparated with the scoreboard reading 78/0 in 27 overs.
3.26 pm: Aiden Markram reaches an exquisite fifty with a single off Hardik Pandya. It's his second fifty in Test cricket. South Africa 72/0 in 25 overs.
3.20 pm: India waste a review. Ravichandran and Parthiv Patel appealed for caught-behind and the umpire said no. It was reviewed and replays showed there was no connection with the ball. South Africa 62/0 in 24 overs.
3.07 pm: This was the last thing India needed. Murali Vijay at deep square leg fails to read the trajectory of an aerial shot from Dean Elgar. It could have been India and Jasprit Bumrah's first wicket. What a shame. The ball sails over Vijay's head and the batsman gets a four. So far the Indian bowlers have failed to make any inroads. South Africa 55/0 in 21 overs.
2:55 pm: Ishant bowling with a lot of purpose and is the most difficult so far for Markram (26*) and Elgar (10*) to face. The boundaries have been plugged as Pandya too has bowled three maidens on the trot from the other end. A big dip in scoring rate. Will the pressure result in a wicket? SA 37/0 in 18 overs
2:35 pm: Ishant and Pandya bowling in tandem now. Bumrah's impressive first spell read 5-2-7-0, while Shami was expensive at 4-1-23-0. SA 36/0 in 14 overs.
2:20 pm: Expensive over by Shami! He is taken for 13 runs by Markram, with two fours, a couple and a three. This start is getting better and better for the hosts, especially the way Markram (24*) is shaping up. Elgar is batting on 9. SA 34/0 in 11 overs.
2:10 pm: Ishant Sharma has bowled his first over of the tour and looked very impressive, especially with his first ball that moved away, forcing Elgar to poke at it and miss. Unlucky for ishant to not get an edge. SA 19/0 in 9 overs.
1:55 pm: Markram is looking very organized, which showed in the two boundaries he has hit so far in his 11*. Elgar (3*) is taking his time to get set. SA 14/0 in 6 overs.
1:43 pm: Bumrah and Shami have opened the attack for India, who have opted for Ishant ahead of usual opening bowler Bhuvneshwar. It remains to be seen if India will miss Bhuvi's swing which got them three early wickets on the first day of Cape Town Test. SA 4/0 after 3 overs. Harsha Bhogle's tweet tells you how surprising Bhuvi's exclusion is in favour of the bounce Ishant is expected to extract.
Staggered by the exclusion of Bhuvaneswar. Staggered.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 13, 2018
India: KL Rahul, Murali 0Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Parthiv Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma
South Africa: Dean Elgar, A Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, L Ngidi, K Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel
1:05 p.m. Toss News! South Africa win toss & decide to bat. Parthiv, Rahul, Ishant replace Saha, Dhawan, Bhuvi for India. Fast bowler Lungi makes debut for South Africa in place of Dale Steyn.
Toss update: South Africa have won the toss and elected to bat first in the 2nd Test. Three changes for #TeamIndia. KL Rahul, Ishant Sharma and Parthiv Patel are in the Playing XI #SAvIND#FreedomSeriespic.twitter.com/kbj1louaSU
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 13, 2018
12:50 p.m. Team India gets into a huddle ahead of the toss.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 13, 2018
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) January 13, 2018
12:45 p.m. We are 15 minutes away from the toss, and the best way to whet your cricket appetite is by digging into the match preview by Prateek Srivastava.
The Indian team has had just four days to mend their hearts from the 72-run crushing defeat they suffered on Monday at the hands of South Africa in the first Test. And now is upon them at an incredibly fast pace the second game that starts in Centurion from Saturday.
India, world's number Test team in the ICC rankings, had failed to chase down an innocuous-looking 208 runs at Newlands in Cape Town, leaving many fans in utter disbelief. Jasprit Bumrah may say one such debacle doesn't dent the confidence of a team but in all honesty, history suggests otherwise. There have been very few sides overcoming such losses.
It's not the defeat, it's the manner in which Virat Kohli's men lost that is likely to haunt the rest of the tour for them. The South Africa tour was already going to be difficult for the Indian team but the visitors, high on their nine successive Test series wins (largely at home), would have backed themselves to chase down that target in the lead-up to the first game of the three-game rubber. Fans would have backed them too, but now it turns out both were mistaken.
The opportunities like the one in Cape Town don't present themselves often and the Indian team management must be aware of that. Former batsman Virender Sehwag already believes the series is as good as gone for the Indian team. And he is not saying it just like that; he knows from experience what such losses do to your morale. So, it will be a Herculean task for the visitors to erase the bad memories from Cape Town and start afresh. The mental-up of the Indian players in this game will decide whether or not they will be equal to the task at SuperSport Park.
One of the biggest issues India are facing ahead of the game is whether or not to bring back Ajinkya Rahane, one of the best Indian batsmen on the road in the last few years. Rohit Sharma, who slogged away for 21 runs across two innings at Newlands, turned out to be a bad punt and it will be interesting to see if Kohli decides to go in with him again, especially in light of the criticism he faced following Rahane's exclusion.
The general perception so far is that the Indian team will be greeted by hostile pitches all through the series and that may make R Ashwin insecure a bit but he also brings plenty of usefulness as a lower-order batsman. And that fact might just retain him in the starting XI. Be that as it may, he won't sleep soundly tonight, and Umesh Yadav & Ishant Sharma are likely to keep him company, although for a totally opposite reason altogether.
The defeat at Cape Town has scarred fans and the last thing Kohli and Co. can expect is forgiveness from them. The only way they can endear themselves back to them is through a much better performance. They will have to avoid a defeat in this game at all costs. Anything less than that will bring down their stock, probably irreparably.